Bowdoin’s annual Consent Week, organized by the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), provoked controversy this week with its poster campaign concerning consent and alcohol.

Some students took issue with the posters, which featured images of drinks and slogans such as “Consent is more clear when you haven’t had a beer.”

“I had an issue with them when I saw them because to me, [the posters] very much seem to imply that alcohol is responsible for sexual assault, as opposed to saying something like alcohol is one component that … might impact how sexual assaults happen,” said Rachel Baron ’17.

Emily Saldich ’17 expressed a similar criticism.

“They were all about alcohol and maybe blamed the victim a little bit,” said Saldich. “I thought that was pretty problematic, and I thought it took some responsibility away from … perpetrators of sexual assault.”

The poster campaign is just one feature of a week of events organized by ASAP. According to ASAP member Madeline Hall ’17, each event is designed to achieve a specific goal and to provide a different outlook on consent.

ASAP is an umbrella organization made up of representatives from many student groups that work to promote safe and healthy relationships.

“I think it’s important to know that ASAP [is a] very diverse group on campus,” said Hall. “We pull from a bunch of different spheres of campus … and so we have a lot of different opinions and different experiences and backgrounds within the group. We really do try and make … all the programs different, so we try and reach a bunch of different people.”

This year is the first year that Consent Week has occurred in the fall rather than the spring. According to Hall, the motivation for the change is to inform first years of the necessity of consent from the beginning of their time at Bowdoin and because consent is an essential component of healthy relationships. Date Week, an ASAP program typically held in November, will be held in the spring instead. 

The name of the program transitioned away from “Consent Is Sexy” last year. 

“[Consent] doesn’t have to be sexy, it just has to happen, and it’s a necessary part of a healthy relationship,” said Hall.

Still, the goal of Consent Week remains the same.

“I think the main idea … is to create buzz on campus about the importance of consent,” said Hall. “I think it’s really important that we don’t have any gray area.”

Consent Week began on Monday with a “consensual cupcake bar” in Thorne Hall. ASAP members decorated cupcakes for participating students by engaging them in a consensual dialogue and encouraging them to ask for the toppings they wanted.

“It’s always known on Bowdoin’s campus that people are so busy, and some people that don’t necessarily directly insert [themselves] into these conversations can easily miss Consent Week,” said Hall. “So what’s nice about the consensual cupcake bar is that it’s at dinner, so it’s going to target a ton of people.”

Events have been ongoing through the week. On Tuesday, 30 students participated in a disclosure training in order to learn how to respond to someone who discloses a personal experience such as sexual assault. 

Today, Eric Barthold—a Colby College graduate who speaks about toxic masculinity at colleges across the nation—will facilitate a discussion called “Redefining ‘Manly.’” Students who identify as male are invited to participate in this conversation about sexual assault prevention in Ladd House from 2:30 to 4 p.m.