Posters put up around the University by the Women’s Committee as part of the Zero Tolerance campaign have been defaced.
One poster placed in the men’s toilets in D Bar which originally read “No means No” was changed to read “No means Now”.
Another poster which had been put up in the walkway in Derwent K Block was changed from “A Dress is not a Yes” to “A Dress Is a Yes”.
The posters were run in conjunction with YUSU’s Zero Tolerance campaign against sexual harassment. The posters were put up in campus bars by the Women’s Committee on January 29th. Several were found defaced only a few hours later.
Millie Perkins and Josie Field, Womens Officers said, “really this just highlights the problem we are trying to address with our campaign, the results of the zero tolerance survey were worrying at best and I would encourage everyone to have a read of them- sexual harassment isn’t something that happens to other people in a far away land, it happens here in York and sadly has probably been experienced by someone you know.
“Vandalising posters can seem a laugh at the time but the underlying message it sends out from our student body is quite disturbing.”
Bob Hughes, Welfare Officer, echoed their views, stating: “I think it’s frankly disgusting that the posters have been defaced in this way- the whole message of these posters is to get people thinking about consent, harassment and how they treat other people, and even if meant as a joke, the message this action sends to everyone else is one of normalising issues of harassment and making people feel unsafe in and around campus.”
“This shows us that there is still a lot of work to be done, and so the Zero Tolerance campaign will seek to look at what other materials and events can get this message across to students, and try to engage as many people as possible in understanding the issues and how they affect people.”
This comes after the recent results of the Zero Tolerance survey carried out by YUSU Welfare and the Women’s Committee, showed that 72 per cent of York students surveyed had experienced sexual harassment whilst at University.
The survey showed that female students were far more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment, with around 75 per cent of female respondents reporting experiencing sexual harassment compared to 65 respondents of male respondents. 80 per cent of the offenders were male, with 15 per cent female and 5 per cent unknown.
Rosie McCluskey and Ed Moore, Derwent Welfare Vice Chairs, commented: “I think the fact that it was in our loos does not necessarily mean that it was anybody in Derwent who did it. This is a public bar. A lot of people who aren’t in Derwent do come here and if it was a member of Derwent, I don’t think it reflects any college attitudes at all.
“Maybe one or two individuals. Obviously we are taking it very seriously and we don’t approve but I don’t think it reflects anything on the college as a whole.”
“We are going to work closely with Women’s Committee in the near future and we are looking to do a push on the Zero Tolerance campaign, not because we feel that this is a problem within Derwent, but because it is a good campaign that people should know about.”
Rob Aitken, Derwent Provost, also weighed in on the issue, telling Nouse: “I regard the defacing of posters as a serious issue. Although a few individuals might think it as just a joke, defacing posters in this way is has the potential to intimidate.
“If I discover who is responsible for this vandalism they will be subject to disciplinary action.”