The UW-Madison Campus Safety Committee hopes to increase awareness about the dangers of alcohol-related sexual abuse by hanging signs in downtown bars and restaurants.
The committee has solicited permission from bars and restaurants on State Street to advertise their campaign with gender-specific signs hung in restrooms.
“The safety committee wants to highlight the link of sexual assault and alcohol abuse,” ASM chair Jessica Miller said.
Many of the signs use shock value to make their point.
“One says, ‘Would you help a woman being sexually assaulted? Would you help a woman being sexually assaulted by your friend?'” said Erica Titze, signage co-coordinator.
By using shock, the committee hopes to draw attention to a persistent trend.
“We are being blunt because it is such a serious issue,” Titze said. “One out of four women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate on this campus, and nine out of ten sexual assaults go unreported.”
According to a recent report by the UW Dean of Students office, 30 UW students have been sexually assaulted since January 2001.
Alcohol-related rape, specifically, is a prevalent issue today because of a proposed bill last Tuesday which aims to make alcohol an intoxicant under state sexual-assault law.
“Right now, if you are drunk you can’t be innocent in rape situations,” Titze said. “When the date-rape drug came on the scene, they put that on the list and took alcohol off.”
Titze said the Campus Safety Committee hopes to lead students to think more about the issue of alcohol-related sexual assaults.
“If a girl sees the poster, maybe she’ll think about it when she’s walking home and call SafeRide,” she said.
The posters also include contacts if victims are looking for help.
The current campaign is a continuation from last year, when the Campus Safety Committee worked with local officials to obtain the posters.
“Last year towards the end of the semester, the committee hung up 15 signs in various bars and restaurants,” Miller said. “They received good feedback and decided to continue. It has now been done on other campuses, and it has definitely started a dialogue between students.”
Titze said they hope to talk to all the businesses by next week, order the signs, and keep them up throughout the year.
Some businesses involved include State Street Brats, The Pub, Kollege Klub, Mad Dog’s, Wando’s, and The City, all popular downtown bars.
The safety committee is also hoping to move beyond the State Street area to Willy Street and Park Street.
“We have had a great response,” Titze said. “A lot of the businesses are ecstatic to help us out.”