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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Snapchat filter promoting consent gets trial run Halloween weekend

A group of student activists collaborated to create a Snapchat filter that reminds students to get consent before sex and raise awareness about the sexual assault climate on campus.

Student activists Ella Sklaw, Tyriek Mack, Marisa Skelley and Justine Jones met with Associate Dean of Students, Kevin Helmkamp, to discuss their idea about creating a message about getting sexual consent.

The pilot filter will run Oct. 27-30, and because most sexual assaults on campus take place at night, the filter will run 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. each day. Users can send their screenshots to for the group to see. 

The filter, created by junior Lana Scholtz reads, “Get Consent this Halloweekend” and will be accessible in all residence halls, dining halls and both Memorial Union and Union South.

Sklaw came up with the initial idea and discussed the benefits of using Snapchat to promote consent and to reach people outside of UW-Madison.

“What is so great about Snapchat as a medium, for doing this, is the message expands beyond the confines of the university because of Snapchat stories,” Sklaw said.

The students’ long-term goal is to have a new sexual consent filter every weekend next semester, should the pilot run smoothly.

In addition to promoting mandatory consent, the group hopes to spark the creative interest of students by allowing them to submit customized filters and captions each week.

“We really want students to be engaged in creating this because ultimately this is by students and for students,” Mack said.

Mack said he decided to help with the project because of his involvement with the Greek community. He said he understands first-hand how men can perpetrate misogyny and the kind of culture that enables sexual assault to be an issue on campuses.

“Being from my background, I just thought it was important to use my leadership to try and make some sort of impact,” Mack said.

Campus climate surveys have revealed one in four women will experience some form of sexual assault during their time at UW-Madison. As a result, the university now requires freshmen and transfer students to take the online program Tonight in addition to attending an in-person workshop to better address sexual assault.

“The conversation doesn’t end when students ‘ex’ out of the Tonight program or walk out the door,” Sklaw said. “It has to be an ongoing conversation because it’s an ongoing issue.”

Sklaw also discussed the meaningful partnership with Helmkamp in supporting and funding the Snapchat filter.

After accusations of multiple sexual assaults against senior student Alec Cook came to light, an outcry from students for the campus to better address sexual assault has taken place.

“Not necessarily to just that case, I think this need to address sexual assault has existed for multiple years on campus,” Helmkamp said. “And we as a university are continuing to ask how we can improve and do this better. Particularly on the proactive, preventative and educational approach.”

A collaborative effort by students and faculty could be one effective way to address sensitive topics like sexual assault on the UW-Madison campus.

“A Snapchat filter isn’t going to end sexual assault,” Sklaw said. “But I think a Snapchat filter is going to meet students where they are and say, ‘Hey remember when you’re going out tonight, consent is this cool thing we have already been talking about and we need to keep having this conversation.’”

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