It’s Ridiculous: Campus posters on alcohol, sexual misconduct fail

Derek Thurber

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The whole campus is littered with posters about alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct. These posters are horribly ineffective. I wish they weren’t so bad, but they are.

The message and the point behind these posters is a truly good one. I cannot emphasize enough how much I support what the posters are trying to do. That is, I am glad the school takes an active interest in its students’ well-being by trying to counter problems of sexual assault and alcohol abuse.

I just don’t think the posters do that noble goal the justice it deserves. It is a shame, but I have to say it: these posters are ridiculous.

This is not to say that the posters could not be improved. But as it stands there are three posters that really stand out as the most sorry, especially given how prominent they are across campus.

Imagine my surprise when I got back from winter break and found a new poster hanging in my bathroom. This poster had to do with sexual assault but it looked more like an ad for Keystone Light.

I am sure people are familiar with this poster. It was divided into six sections, five of which were a really bad picture of a Keystone can with the last one telling me that an inebriated person can not give consent. That is true, but so poorly delivered.

I couldn’t believe they would post such a crappy poster all around campus: a poster that instead of combating sexual assault only made me wonder how much the Keystone company paid Whitman College for making the poster. I was very relieved when I stopped seeing that poster all over the place. Please don’t bring it back.

Worse than this and other sexual misconduct posters are the alcohol awareness posters. There is one that has recently become very popular around campus stating that “91% of Whitman students look out for their friends when they are drunk.”

Great! What do the other 9 percent do?

It is terrible to look at it that way because I know it was probably only people thinking it would be funny to put on a survey that they don’t look out for their friends. But that is all I can think of when I see that poster.

I don’t look at it and think what a great place to go to school: so many people look out for their friends. I look at it and think: 9 percent of people don’t look out for their friends! Holy crap!

So just know that although 91 percent is a large number it is not a 100 percent.

But the poster that really takes the crown for most ill-conceived design is the one with the infamous percentage break downs of the number of drinks students consume on the average Friday or Saturday night.

When I was a first-year I remember, clearly, my RA telling us all about the point of those posters. He told us how it didn’t matter that there was a missing 26 percent of students who drank more than eight to nine drinks. He explained patiently that they were not trying to hide anything and that it was simply there to show that there is an alternative to drinking on weekend nights.

It didn’t work.

I get the idea; I understand the point; I don’t believe Whitman is trying to conceal anything from us. But that doesn’t matter. I look at that poster and can’t help but think there is something missing. It is a terrible, nagging feeling that detracts from the poster’s point.

And the worst part about it is how easy it would be to change. All they would have to do is add one more category that said 26 percent of students have ten or more drinks. Simple and respectable.

This easy change would not affect the point of the poster but it would gain the respect of us students who look at it and can’t help but do the math to find out the missing percentage.

The posters are not wrong and they are not even poorly made, but they do fail to reach their audience for stupid little reasons. A few simple fixes and the entire poster campaign on campus could become so much better. Really all that needs to be done is to ask the students what they think of current and future posters before plastering bad ones all over campus.

It is so easy that it amazes me nobody has taken the initiative to make a difference.

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