Campus News

Student led, UHS-funded initiative promotes consensual sex on campus

Image By: Ella Sklaw and Jeung Bok Holmquist

For Halloween of 2016, a group of UW-Madison students launched Consent Snaps, a Snapchat geofilter encouraging sexual consent. This Valentine’s week Consent Snaps is making a return with hopes of encouraging conversation around healthy relationships within the campus community.

The new filter will be made available on Valentine’s Day and the following weekend in a variety of places on campus, including Memorial Union, Union South and Sellery and Witte residence halls.

For Ella Sklaw, a UW-Madison senior who started the initiative last year, the project is really about encouraging conversations about safe sex on campus, even for students who wouldn’t normally have those conversations.

“When you are in an area that has a sponsored consent snap you don’t choose whether or not you see it,” Sklaw said.

Amid national conversations around sexual conduct and consent, student organizers and UHS staff found Valentine’s week an opportune moment to further the conversation on campus.

It’s important that growth in the national conversation not stall the conversation on college campuses where 1 in 4 undergraduate women experience sexual assault, according to Sklaw.

“As we’ve approached [sexual assault] as a more public conversation I feel like I personally haven’t heard as much about it on college campuses,” Sklaw said.

While she recognized that conversations about consent on college campuses have been happening for a long time, Sklaw said the information is always “pushed to the side” or “denied,” and not enough has actually been done to change the conversation about sexual consent on campus.

Originally funded by the Dean of Students office, the Consent Snaps program was revitalized this semester with the help of University Health Services Wellness Programming.

For Brooke Nelson, a Student Wellness Assistant at UHS, the Consent Snaps initiative was a perfect fit for the UHS-sponsored “Safety Month” this February. This week, the wellness team is focusing on healthy relationships.

“[Consent] is all about being explicit and communicative and I think it’s so important in relationships and hookups that people can communicate and express how they feel,” Nelson said.

Consent Snaps will only be returning for the week of Valentine’s Day, but Sklaw emphasized the importance of the project and hopes someone will be able to continue following her graduation in May.

“The project’s important to me now … more so than ever because it’s time to continue talking about sexual assault and fighting sexual assault on college campuses,” Sklaw said.

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