“Spreading sexual rumors. This is sexual harassment.” reads a poster placed in the third-floor stairwell, bright green in capital font. As part of the gender studies class, senior Lindsay Huang put that poster and others like it up for her final project, to raise awareness of experiences too prevalent among high schoolers.
“I think [rape and sexual violence] is grossly overlooked, especially in school environments,” says Huang. “Most of the sexual harassment that I’ve seen at Uni occurs in those forms, such as making inappropriate jokes or comments or sending a link to a not-safe-for-work website or just poking people.”
Lindsay’s gender studies group was inspired by how stigmatized sexuality and gender-based violence is at Uni even though it’s not rare.
“I think the victims in these situations are extremely hesitant to speak up, because they’re afraid of getting ridiculed, and even if they do speak out they’re ignored because people don’t take them seriously,” says Huang. She hopes for these posters to become a voice for the people who share these experiences, and for these posters to ultimately open student and faculties’ eyes to the problem.
On the design of the posters, Huang says, “I think [my group] put specific posters in specific locations, so that perpetrators can hopefully read these posters and reflect on their own actions. Or really anyone.” She designed the posters to have an “in your face effect”.
“If viewers feel uncomfortable seeing the posters, in a way I think I’ve done my job. It conveys how uncomfortable and awkward those situations are in real life. That’s also why I made them bright colors,” said Huang.
But her efforts haven’t remained undisputed.
Huang sees pushback to her efforts, saying “I think a couple of faculty disapproved when I put them up, even though they are approved by Dr. Radnitzer. All of the ones near uni period boards are gone, as are some of the ones that have the word ‘sex’ in them.”
Two boys also defaced the third-floor poster, underlining the misspelling of “harassment” with red pen. But her goal, no matter what, is to foster a safer and more conscientious environment at Uni.
“Based on the [sexual harassment survey] results, as well as the general political/social climate in the U.S. right now, I think that’s something that’s much needed.” ◼