Last fall, STRIVE at GatorWell’s Sexual Consent Health Communication Campaign launched on the University of Florida campus. Bulletin boards outside classrooms and dorms flooded with Shari Brown’s artwork as RTS buses covered in the same images maneuvered the streets of campus.
This fall, the campaign has relaunched, once again shedding light on an increasing problem at universities: a lack of consent during sexual encounters.
“For a long time, there used to be the kind thinking that said, ‘Well the person didn’t say no,’ so they felt ok to go forward with sex,” said Rita Lawrence, GatorWell’s Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator. “That created a lot of problems because they didn’t have a yes. They only knew they didn’t have a no.”
Brown, who graduated from the School of Art + Art History in 2016, worked as a junior graphic designer for GatorWell while the campaign was in development. She said she jumped at the opportunity to join the STRIVE peer education team.
“Sexual assault on college campuses is very prevalent and often overlooked,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, some of that stems from ignorance, and I was happy to help educate the campus community on the meaning and importance of consent.”
STRIVE, which stands for Sexual Trauma/Interpersonal Violence Education, includes peer educators involved in outreach, education and advocacy initiatives related to the prevention of interpersonal violence, according to the website.
“She really was the perfect person to be involved,” Lawrence said after seeing Brown’s initial sketches for the project.
The artwork appears as scenes of both negative and positive situations taking place prior to sexual encounters in the form of comic strips.
“We needed to show the audience what these situations look like and what to do if you find yourself in one,” Brown said. “Comics are fun, colorful, easily recognizable and a bit nostalgic, which helps make them relatable.”
Lawrence added that GatorWell always aims to make students see themselves in various campaign imagery, and photographs featuring models didn’t embody UF’s diverse student population. Brown’s artwork, however, did.
“Feedback for the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive,” Brown said. “I'm really happy to hear that people enjoyed it and that we've made an impact on the campus community.”