Concordia sexual-violence prevention campaign wins gold
A Concordia campaign geared toward preventing sexual violence and promoting consent has snagged a top award from The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District 1.
The 2018 Gold Award for Best Practices in Communications and Marketing was awarded to the university at an annual conference earlier this month. The honour is one of seven in the district's platinum categories for the best programs and practices in educational advancement.
The award recognized excellence in the communications planning and implementation of a refreshed consent campaign undertaken by the Sexual Assault and Resource Centre (SARC).
Karen McCarthy, director of Institutional Communications at University Communication Services (UCS) and member of the project team, says the win represents the culmination of many months’ worth of research and cross-sectional collaboration.
“From the start, our goal was to give the campaign a new visual identity that would resonate with students,” McCarthy adds.
“Thanks to a unique effort that brought together different units from across the university, our communications activities resonated with students and far surpassed our expectations.”
The campaign communications materials included three short videos using animated fruit to navigate sexual consent and bystander invention.
These videos outlined the campaign’s three key messages: sexual contact without consent is sexual assault; trust your intuition and speak up to stop sexual violence, and 82 per cent of sexual assault survivors know their perpetrators.
“We wanted to create a look and feel around our content that would appeal to students and help them broach a topic that can be hard to talk about,” says Jennifer Drummond, SARC coordinator.
Mixing it up
A committee was created — including members of UCS, the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and SARC — to seek proposals from film animation students to develop educational material that focused on sexual consent and bystander intervention in a non-threatening way.
After holding multiple focus groups with students to obtain feedback on three final proposals, the group awarded the contract to Daniel Sterlin-Altman (BFA, 16) and Lori Malépart-Traversy (BFA, 16).
“The process was very involved, we created a committee to review the animations at each stage of their development,” says Drummond. “I think it was this constant communication and feedback, especially from the student focus groups, that helped ensure the messaging was clear and the style would appeal to the student community.”
The look and feel of the videos were reflected in all associated print and digital materials, from postcards to tunnel banners, creating a consistent visual identity for the campaign using two slogans: Get consent. Ask. Listen. Respect. and Step up to stop sexual violence.
“Navigating sexual consent and bystander intervention are two subjects of conversation that are always current, but even more so at the start of the academic year when thousands of new students are first introduced to university life,” says McCarthy, noting the campaign’s launch date, Monday August 29, 2016, coincided with the beginning of orientation activities.
Measure of success
“I think the new campaign had a huge impact, and most definitely raised awareness of the fact Concordia has a Sexual Assault Resource Centre,” says Drummond.
“This means many people are now aware of a resource they might need to use, making it easier for them to access the help and support they need,”
Two student surveys done before and after the campaign launched gave the university a sense of its reach. For example, initial awareness of SARC’s consent campaign among students surveyed was 39.8 per cent. After the campaign launch, that number rose to 60 per cent.
“We saw increased awareness in people who saw our posts more than triple on Facebook and double on Twitter,” says McCarthy.
Find out more about the Sexual Assault Resource Centre.