Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Breaking The Silence: Commons Campaign

Myrianna Bakou
Darrin Smith
Damien Pfister
COMM 250
April 25th 2016
Common Campaign Portfolio  

 To view our Commons Campaign, please click the link below:
Original Proposal
Our commons campaign addresses sexual crimes and violence on campus and how universities address them. In our proposal as well as in our campaign, we will be referring to The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on American campuses. The documentary is very eye-opening in terms of how little American universities do to protect victims of sexual crimes. Many college campuses go far and wide to hide sexual crimes from the public or even bring awareness to them because they fear losing students hence, losing money. Because they do so little to bring awareness to sexual crimes and violence on campus they in tern protect the people committing the crimes, often letting them off the hook without repercussion. Because of this, victims of sexual violence often feel unsupported, shamed, blamed, and sometimes outright ignored when they come out and speak their truth. The documentary focuses on how victims of sexual violence have stood up over the years, demanding something be done. While watching the documentary, we were equally inspired and wanted to bring the awareness to our own campus. We believe that victims of sexual violence should receive justice and not forced to hide the truth. We understand how difficult it is for students who have been violated to come out and relive the event. However, we strongly believe that those students should be supported by university campuses.
Because of how controversial this topic is, we understand that there might be some constraints as far as communicating with the staff at UNL and trying to bring greater awareness to sexual violence on our campus. Although some people might jump on the wagon and do everything that they can to help us and support us in any way that they can, we also hypothesize there might be some backlash. That is because we are specifically addressing the lack of support that universities provide for students who have suffered from sexual assault.  Our audiences is anyone that attends UNL whether that be students, professors, deans or chancellors. This is a great opportunity to educate everyone on sexual crimes but also to help people be more aware of the effect that sexual violence has on our students. Furthermore, we’d like to reiterate that sexual violence is never the victim’s fault.
A lot of the things that we will be doing for our project is self-made, making it creative and giving our campaign a unique feel. Since we want to be credible, we’ve done a lot of research, and cited those sources to provide additional reference for our audience. We also want to be fair, and unbiased so part of our research involve interviewing different people on campus about sexual crimes and violence both regarding UNL and college campuses in general. Some of the people that we plan on interviewing are as followed: staff in the women center, staff in the title nine office, hopefully, the dean of students and maybe even a student who has experienced sexual violence on this campus. If we interview a student who has experienced sexual violence on campus, we will ask them how the university handled it and how supported they felt by the university. Because this is a very personal thing, we will find ways to be discreet and protect the identity of the student in any way we can. Aside from interviewing people (which will be recorded), we will also make informative pamphlets about sexual crimes on college campuses and create a blog. We will hand out the pamphlets both in class and in the Union, and the blog will be our overall project. Anything else we do for our campaign will be on the blog.
What We Did
The first thing that we did was rewatch the documentary several times. We studied it and took notes on things that we wanted to cover during our blog. We also did additional research, finding more information that has have been published about sexual assault on college campuses. We viewed other blogs and websites that brought awareness to the issues. Reviewing other blogs and websites really helped us because it allowed us to see what worked and what didn’t. It also helped us figure out which direction we should take our own project. Once we collected our information, we then made a scheduled outline detailing what and when something should be accomplished. Our timeline was included in our initial proposal. The next thing that we did was discuss who would be responsible for what. Darrin was responsible for doing the flyer, and I was responsible for the video. We both agreed that we would work on adding information to the blog either on our own time and when our schedule permitted we would do it together.
The most challenging part of our blog was the video. Dr. Jan Deed is the director of the Women’s Center and the associate director of UNL Student Involvement. She agreed to do a brief interview with me in which I asked her several questions regarding sexual assault, specifically on how our university handles sexual misconduct. In the interview, she talks briefly about the documentary that inspired our project. Deed continues by going into detail about a conference she recently attended that focused on providing faculties with the information needed when dealing with sexual misconduct on campus. Dr. Deed told us that the movie The Hunting Ground was one of the contributing factors behind this conference. She also addressed the benefits of using the Women’s Center, which is one of the many resources available to student here at UNL. The Women’s Center provide many resources for not only for women, but men as well. One important benefit of using the Women’s Center is free counseling for students.
Originally, our plan was to interview someone in the title nine office because they’re the ones who primarily deals with sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, we had a hard time figuring out exactly who to contact, once we finally found out, they would not respond to our request. We also were interested in interviewing students who were victims of sexual assault, but we quickly realized that that wouldn’t work for two reasons. One, we had no way of knowing who victims of sexual assault were and we couldn’t ask the Women’s Center or the UNL Health Center because we knew they would not disclose the information. It also would have been a little weird, not to mention how creepy going around and asking a person such emotional questions would be. The second reason was that we also didn’t want to really expose any students for safety reasons. It is possible that some students would have wanted to share their stories, but we just had no real way of doing this. Since the title nine office didn’t get back to use, we decided to interview Dr. Deed, who is also very knowledgeable about the topic. We also wanted to interview Dr. Sarah Gervais, who does research regarding sexual assault on campus, and Kevin Rush who is an RD in Pound Hall. Unfortunately Dr. Gervais was traveling, so we couldn’t find a time that worked to interview her and upon talking to Kevin, we realized that he does not really deal with sexual misconduct often so he wouldn’t really be able to tell us more about how the issue is dealt with on our campus. Another thing that we didn’t really do a good job on was following the schedule that we made for ourselves. Although we got everything done, we didn’t follow the schedule. We also weren't able to distribute the leaflets that we made due to lack of time. If we had to do this project all over again, we would really work on getting the blog on other social media channels so that more people can see it.

Even though we had difficulty finding people to interview, the video itself was the most successful part of our blog. It is the highlight of the blog and was edited well despite some initial issues with editing. Another thing that I think really work was the videos that are posted throughout the blog as well as the images. They emphasize the points that we are trying to make. The video of the documentary summarizes our research, our own video compares how we deal with sexual misconduct compare to other universities, and the last video at the end emphasizes how easy and straightforward consent is and how ridiculous it is when people don’t understand it. I strongly believe that the last video is the perfect clincher and conclusion of our campaign.

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