A creative approach to raising awareness

For National Consent Month, Peer Advocates call for zine submissions

Rachel Dickinson 

radickinson@ursinus.edu

September is National Consent Month and the UC Peer Advocates want you to know it. The student group, whose purpose is to educate the campus on issues of sexual misconduct, sent out a campus-wide email last week promoting their newest measure. In order to raise awareness about this month of activism they are producing their first-ever zine.

A zine is essentially a small, self-published magazine that can be widely distributed—an effective way to reach students on a college campus. While a zine may feature a variety of topics, the Peer Advocates’ will focus on consensual sex.

Senior Peer Advocate Sophie Snapp described the zine as a “miniature homemade magazine” that will include student submissions consisting of personal narratives, poems, comics, and art–all relating to the importance of consent.

When the zine is completed, the Peer Advocates will distribute copies around campus. Their intention is to encourage students to gain a better understanding of what consent means here at Ursinus.

The idea to create a zine came from the Prevention and Advocacy Educator Jessica Oros, one of Ursinus’ newest faculty members.

“[Since] Ursinus is a really creative place, and the students are really creative…I just thought it would be a good fit for students [to be] able to express themselves [in regard to] their concerns and what matters to them,” Oros said.

Oros explained that working with and educating college students on matters such as sex, relationships, and consent is something she is very passionate about.

“I think it’s important that students have a full understanding [of] what consent and all of the small details that make up consent [are] because coercion and intoxication can often be mistaken as consent,” Oros said.

The Peer Advocates work alongside Oros and assist her in various projects. The group is trained to support and guide students on campus dealing with personal issues that involve sexual misconduct. Active throughout the campus, they are constantly promoting awareness of issues with safe sex and sober consent that persist.

“I think the more these types of topics are talked about, the better the understanding as well as the outcome,” Oros continued.

Last weekend the Peer Advocates stood outside of Reimert early one evening to hand out condoms and Hershey Kisses as a way to remind everyone to be safe and to make responsible choices. This weekend they hung signs printed with statements like “My cup is not my consent” as a way to highlight the importance of sober consent.

“The Peer Advocates have only been around for a few years, so we’re relatively new, but every year we get stronger, and this year we’re trying to take every opportunity we can to be active in the community,” Snapp said.

Snapp went on to express the importance of being an advocate for people who cannot, or don’t know how to advocate for themselves.

“I decided to become a Peer Advocate two years ago, when I realized [these] issues happened to people I knew. I wanted to learn what to do or say in a situation where someone needs help,” said Snapp.

Submissions for the zine will be accepted until Sept. 30 and can be submitted electronically or in person to the Peer Advocates. Student contributors may remain anonymous.

Additional information about the Peer Advocates and Jessica Oros can be found on the Ursinus website.