Campaign Tackles Sexual Violence on Campus

Last year — 2014 — may end up going down in history as the year that sexual violence rose to public awareness prominence in our society. From the accusations of sexual transgressions against comedian Bill Cosby to the retraction of the article in Rolling Stone Magazine concerning the accusation of sexual violence at a University of Virginia fraternity — as well as the “list of shame” of over fifty colleges and universities that have sexual abuse on campus charges filed, the topic certainly has the nation’s attention. In fact, even the White House published a report, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, in January 2014 to call attention to this topic.

In the years after 1972 when Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Equal Opportunity in Education Act) was enacted, most people associated it with women’s sports on the collegiate level and the legislation that required equal funding for both men’s and women’s collegiate sports. That is, until recently when Title IX has been prominently featured in the news — but this time as associated with accusations of sexual violence incidents on college campuses and college and university reactions to these accusations.

This past Spring, an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty from Philadelphia University decided to directly face the topic of Sexual Violence on Campus by creating a Public Awareness Campaign Against Sexual Violence on Campus. Nine students from two different majors (graphic design communication and animation) took on the task of addressing this very important — and quite challenging — topic in the Philadelphia University Design Workshop class. In an effort to raise awareness about sexual violence on college campuses and to educate fellow students, the interdisciplinary team created an Integrated Public Awareness Campaign, which included Brand Identity and Logo (as well as taglines), Posters, Buttons, Stickers, a Mobile Website and Public Service Announcements.

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Working with the Philadelphia University Offices of Student Life and Student Health Services as its actual client, the students gained valuable experience through working on a real-world project while they were still in school. Conducted in Philadelphia University’s signature teaching style of Nexus Learning, the project was active, collaborative, engaging and real-world.

The initial idea for the project began in 2013 with a conversation between Kirstin Patragnoni-Sauter, director of Student Health Services at Philadelphia University, and myself (Frank Baseman), professor and director of the Graphic Design Communication program. Patragnoni-Sauter was aware of the work of the Philadelphia University Design Workshop, a practicum-type design elective course that I teach where students get an opportunity to work on real projects for real clients, typically nonprofit clients or those from the Philadelphia University community. After some discussion about the state of Title IX and its impact on colleges and universities nationwide — and some of the recent news stories on the topic, including where some colleges and universities have not always acknowledged the problem directly, Patragnoni-Sauter and I wanted to get right out in front of this important topic. Ultimately, with the assistance and support of Mark Govoni, dean of students, and Tim Butler, associate dean of students, and — Patragnoni-Sauter, became the client team. The Philadelphia University Design Workshop group met together, discussed parameters and goals and began to plan to take on the project during the Spring 2014 semester.


Ultimately, a team of nine students made up of young men and women from the two majors was assembled to work on the semester-long project during Spring 2014 semester. Fred Freeman, adjunct professor of animation, was also recruited to help assist the animation students with any technical difficulties they might encounter while working on the project.

In a sense, since any of the students working on the project could potentially be victims of sexual assault, the students working on the project were both the framers of the problem and consumers of the messages at the same time. In other words, they were the designers and the audience (the audience mostly being college students on campus). They needed to create something that would resonate with their peers, that would speak to their crowd, and that would be memorable and noticeable. Thus, the students helped to define the approach to the problem.

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At the beginning of the project there were some concerns regarding what tone the campaign might take. Was it going to be scary? Fearful? Depressing? At some point during the semester, in an effort to search for an appropriate identity and to find an appropriate message to convey, the students collectively decided to play off of Philadelphia University’s existing overall tagline of “Powered to Do What’s Now. Powered to Do What’s Next.” The students decided to create multiple taglines such as “Powered to Say No,” (directed towards a victim) “Powered to Speak Up,” (directed towards a bystander) “Powered to Step In” (directed towards a bystander) and “Powered to Be Decent” (directed towards a potential perpetrator). These taglines coordinated with a Logo, which became a mash-up of a heart and a power symbol that one would find on a computer or electronic device. When the group proposed this Identity, it was then that the campaign truly felt like it was empowering—that they were taking a positive stand against sexual violence on campus.

With the publication of the White House Report, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, this problem has proven to be a national issue—especially on college campuses. The fact that this very important Report was published while we were in the middle of working on this project simply confirmed the national importance of this topic. The Report also proved to be fruitful for the team, as it became required reading for the project and the students were encouraged to utilize the information presented as research and as source material for their projects.

Individual students were then empowered to create their own campaigns both in print and in motion while utilizing the Identity/Logo and taglines that they created together to give all of their work a cohesive campaign feel. In varying ways, students identified and targeted potential audiences of the victim, the perpetrator and the bystander through their work; as well as addressing the topic of alcohol and it’s impact on sexual assault (through the original concept of “If it’s not sober, It’s not consent.”).

The students made presentations to the client team on several occasions throughout the semester, receiving feedback and valuable criticism along the way. The creative team of students worked very cohesively as a unit. Some students took on copywriting; others refined the symbol/mark that became the Logo. And still others created original photography to support their designs.

In the end, the interdisciplinary team of students created a campaign that will help to raise awareness about this very important topic, especially on their very own campus. They created something that is strong, distinctive and very empowering. The goal is to share this information, and reach a wider audience—in an effort to make this a national campaign against sexual violence on college campuses nationwide.

Creative Team: Graphic Design Communication Students Sarah Bui, Brianna DiPietro, Vicki Ewing, Elissa Flanigan, Eric Lacy, Franklin Overstreet and Nadine Radwan. Animation Students Kelly McHugh and Samantha Miller

Creative Direction (Faculty): Frank Baseman, professor and director, Graphic Design Communication; Fred Freeman, adjunct professor, Animation.

Produced during Spring semester 2014 

 T5649_CollaborativeIn today’s design marketplace, it’s more important than ever to be skilled at working with others stretching various disciplines with ease. Frank Baseman will walk you through the key tips for healthy collaborations as he presented at HOW Design Live. Listen to his session from HOW Design Live.

One thought on “Campaign Tackles Sexual Violence on Campus

  1. Claudia Nieto

    Awesome designs!!!! Simple but they get to the point. I am found of the colors used in the four letter words posters. Also the way the type is set out, they make a nice combination and is also a unique way to combine both of the words, it is not seen much. Another fact that I enjoyed was that all the sets of ads tie in together and can tell that they are all by the same campaign. Sexual violence is a hard topic to speak about and yet to advertise and it was well done.