Posters About Sexual Assault Crop Up in Sever

Posters About Sexual Assault
On Wednesday, posters about sexual assault at Harvard appeared in Sever Hall.

UPDATED: September 9, 2015, at 11:14 p.m.

In what appears to be a new campaign, a series of posters about sexual assault at the College cropped up in Sever Hall on Wednesday.

Emblazoned with the matching tagline “#justharvardthings,” one poster depicts a smiling woman with the words “when you smile shyly in the dhall at the man who sexually assaulted you” in the caption.

Another poster, captioned “when no one picks up the 24 hour sexual assault hotline. twice.” seemed to reference Harvard’s sexual harassment response resources.


It was not immediately clear who was behind the posters. But Alicia Oeser, the director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, responded with a statement that trained OSAPR staff answer the confidential hotline 24 hours each day.

“In the rare case that a call is missed, most likely because we are on the other line,” she wrote in an email, OSAPR encourages individuals to leave a message that staff will delete after they hear it. Oeser added that OSAPR is “always looking for ways to be more accessible and available.”

The posters’ presence comes at a time of heightened awareness and scrutiny surrounding how sexual assault is handled at Harvard.

The College is currently under federal investigation for allegedly violating anti-sex discrimination law Title IX, after two undergraduates filed a complaint with the government in April 2014. More recently, student activists have continued to criticize aspects of the University's Title IX policy and procedures, as well as its ability to investigate assault allegations.

Last academic year, Harvard implemented a new centralized Title IX policy, which created a University-wide office tasked with investigating cases, among other points. For months, undergraduate activists publicly decried the fact that some staff positions in the office for a time remained vacant and otherwise argued that there was a lack of institutional support for the office.

Investigators from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights also visited the College this past spring to solicit student input on the policies and culture at the school.

Harvard has responded to the scrutiny in several ways. In addition to rolling out a new sexual assault policy, it participated in a survey on campus sexual conduct climate last spring, the results of which are expected to be released later this month. Administrators have also raised concerns about sexual assault in final clubs.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.


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