Rape Prevention Messaging Designed by Students, for Students


In design, I don’t think there is a better possible outcome than this: a non-profit who gets a much-needed messaging make-over, and students who get to make work that really matters.

The Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), a non-profit dedicated to responding to survivors of sexual violence, was paired with Professor Kristen Hughes’ Advanced Typography class. Their challenge was to come up with new approaches to sexual assault prevention messaging targeted towards college students. Their finished products included posters, take-aways, websites and short videos.

The students presented their work to the staff at PAAR who almost had to be convinced to stay for the reception before they ran back to the office, posters in tow, to show off the work to the rest of the organization. “I am going to use this tomorrow,” one sexual assault counselor confessed. The students had both delighted them with design, and impressed them with their creative, yet relevant approaches to this difficult topic.

Because alcohol plays a major role in the incidence of sexual assault, several projects emphasized knowing how much alcohol is too much. As common sense-ical as that seems, the counselors from PAAR confirmed that the involvement of alcohol continues to be a problem. “We see this everyday at the hospitals. So many victims can’t proceed through the court system because their memories are only in bits and pieces.”

The students’ work, which powerfully and creatively reframes the question of rape prevention, is currently showcased in the halls of Margaret Morrison.

Written by Loretta Neal

Date Published: 
Monday, December 5, 2011
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