Poster Consultations Not Policy; Article Misleads

Letter to the Editors

To the editors:

The Crimson’s Nov. 14 news article, “HRL Will Submit Posters To College,” erroneously states that a new College policy has been established, wherein student groups will be “approved” by my office before being posting. This idea was the result of a recent campaign by the Harvard Right to Life group, who recently initiated a poster campaign depicting a rape survivor who regretted her choice of abortion and which was found to be offensive by some students.

While we in the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR) are available to any student or student group who may have concerns about advertising or other materials which may be potentially offensive or retraumatizing to survivors, it is simply not true that we are somehow the arbiters of “approval” of any student advertising effort. The article did not accurately describe the process for constitution of a new College policy. Official College policies can only be enacted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and not by agreement at a student meeting. It is erroneous and misleading to state that the OSAPR now has “approval-granting” (or denying) power for any advertising or student communications. Consulting the OSAPR for input on any particular poster campaign addressing rape or sexual assault is entirely voluntary.

If students have concerns about the content of advertising and its potential effect on survivors of rape, or have any questions, concerns, or comments about the way that posters are used to inform and educate students about these issues, please do not hesitate to call us, stop by our Office on the 8th floor of Holyoke Center, or call us at 495-9100.

Susan B. Marine

Nov. 15, 2003

The writer is the director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.