This college's anti-rape campaign pulls no punches when it comes to the message: Don't rape.

There's no softening of an important message at this university.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison launched a new sexual assault awareness campaign this week and they're not wasting any words when it comes to making their point.

Here's a poster that's part of the campaign:


Poster by University of Wisconsin-Madison police department. Used with permission.

I mean, it seems pretty obvious: There's no consent without actual, you know, consent.

And yet it must not be so clear, given how often women are sexually assaulted, both in general and on college campuses. Furthermore, the National Institute of Justice statistics prove that rapists aren't just strange men who lurk in dark places: 9 out of 10 women assaulted on college campuses knew the perpetrator.

It's safe to conclude there's a lot of date and acquaintance rape being committed.

Hoping to educate those who aren't clear on exactly what consent is, the University of Wisconsin-Madison got right to the point.

The university's "Don't Be That Guy" campaign aims to clarify what qualifies as consent for sexual activity during alcohol use.

"We need people (young men, in particular) to know what consent is," Officer Marc Lovicott, spokesperson for the university's police department, told me. "We need them to know that consent is a clear 'yes' — not the absence of a 'no.'"

This isn't a new approach for the school.

Back in April 2015, I shared an email the school sent out following a sexual assault on campus. It struck me as notable because instead of following up the news with tips on how women can stay safe, the campus police department instead offered tips to avoid raping someone.

And they're continuing to send that message today, with posters like this:

Telling men how to avoid being rapists instead of telling women how to avoid rape should be a given, but it sure feels novel.

How many of us grew up hearing what girls and women could do to stay safe far more often than we heard anyone telling men all of the ways in which they might rape someone — and how to avoid them?

And while nobody is saying that we shouldn't take steps to keep ourselves safe in life, regardless of gender, putting the burden of preventing sexual assault on the victims is both ineffective and just plain wrong.

I asked Officer Lovicott what motivated the department to take this important step. He said they've been working on spreading information about sexual assault on campus for a while, most recently running a "Tell Us" campaign targeted toward sexual assault survivors. But they took it a step further by really listening to people's feedback:

"The campaign was successful and received positive feedback — but we heard from many who said, 'It's time to target the perpetrators.' And we agreed. We searched for a way to say 'don't rape,' and this what we came up with. We're directly targeting young men, talking about alcohol use and about consent, and we're saying 'don't be that guy.'"

The campaign is targeted specifically toward men.


To be clear, men can also be victims of rape. However, statistics show that women are victimized far more often and so the campaign has used that information to guide its focus. The National Institute of Justice notes that 1 in 6 women will be the victim of a completed or attempted rape during her life, versus 1 in 33 men.

Officer Lovicott realizes that some will take issue with this very clear message, but he's undeterred. "We know not everyone is going to like this campaign — specially, some men who feel that we're targeting them, " he told me.

"We've already heard from a handful who have called this campaign 'sexist.' We understand that — we're not going to win with everyone on this."

But this isn't about winning everyone. It's about educating and changing behavior and stopping rape, and the school is steadfast in their approach.

"[W]e believe this campaign addresses a core demographic — young men — who are responsible for the VAST majority of sexual assault cases," he said. "Something needs to be done about sexual assaults on our college campuses, and we believe this is a step in the right direction."

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Single-use coffee pods might make a good cup of joe, but they're detrimental to the environment.

"Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet," John Hocevar, the campaign director of Greenpeace USA, an environmental nonprofit organization, told USA Today. "Many end up getting incinerated, dumping poison into our air, water and our soil."

Currently, 29,000 single-use coffee pods are thrown away each minute. You have to ask yourself, is it worth filling up the landfills to satisfy your caffeine habit? While the aluminum capsules are recyclable, it's not as easy as tossing them in the bin. Instead, you typically have to take them a designated collection point created by the brand.

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There are songs that tug at your heartstrings and videos that tap into your soft side. And then there are combos of the two that get you so far up in your feelings, you're not sure if you'll ever be able to climb back out.

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Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

"Can I buy you a drink?" is a loaded question.

It could be an innocent request from someone who's interested in having a cordial conversation. Other times, saying "yes" means you may have to fend off someone who feels entitled to spend the rest of the night with you.

In the worst-case scenario, someone is trying to take advantage of you or has a roofie in their pocket.

Feminist blogger Jennifer Dziura found a fool-proof way to stay safe while understanding someone's intentions: ask for a non-alcoholic beverage or food. If they're sincerely interested in spending some time getting to know you, they won't mind buying something booze-free.

RELATED: States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It's about dang time.

But if it's their intention to lower your defenses, they'll throw a mild tantrum after you refuse the booze. Her thoughts on the "Can I buy you a drink?" conundrum made their way to Tumblr.

via AshleysCo / Tumblr


via AshleysCo / Tumblr

The posts caught the attention of a bartender who knows there are lot of men out there whose sole intention is to get somone drunk to take advantage.

"Most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality," the bartender wrote. "They're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down."

So they shared a few tips on how to be safe and social when someone asks to buy you a drink.

From the other side of the bar, I see this crap all the time. Seriously. I work at a high-density bar, and let me tell you, I have anywhere from 10-20 guys every night come up and tell me to, "serve her a stronger drink, I'm trying to get lucky tonight, know what I mean?" usually accompanied with a wink and a gesture at a girl who, in my experience, is going to go from mildly buzzed to definitively hammered if I keep serving her. Now, I like to think I'm a responsible bartender, so I usually tell guys like that to piss off, and, if I can, try to tell the girl's more sober friends that they need to keep an eye on her.
But everyone- just so you know, most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality, they're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down.

Tips for getting drinks-

1. ALWAYS GO TO THE BAR TO GET YOUR OWN DRINK, DO NOT LET STRANGERS CARRY YOUR DRINKS. This is an opportune time for dropping something into your cocktail, and you're none the wiser.

2.IF YOU ORDER SOMETHING NON-ALCOHOLIC, I promise you, the bartender doesn't give two shits that you're not drinking cocktails with your friends, and often, totally understands that you don't want to let your guard down around strangers. Usually, you can just tell the bartender that you'd like something light, and that's a big clue to us that you're uncomfortable with whomever you're standing next to. Again, we see this all the time.

3. If you're in a position to where you feel uncomfortable not ordering alcohol:
Here's a list of light liquors, and mixers that won't get you drunk, and will still look like an actual cocktail:

X-rated + sprite = easy to drink, sweet, and 12% alcoholic content. Not strong at all, usually runs $6-$8, depending on your state.
Amaretto + sour= sweet, not strong, 26%.
Peach Schnapps+ ginger ale= tastes like mellow butterscotch, 24%.
Melon liquor (Midori, in most bars) + soda water = not overly sweet, 21%
Coffee liquor (Kahlua) +soda = not super sweet, 20%.
Hope this helps someone out!

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If you do accept a drink from someone at a bar and you want to talk, there's no need to feel obligated to spend the rest of the night with them.

Jaqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says to be polite you only have to "Engage in some friendly chit-chat, but you are not obligated to do more than that."

If someone asks to buy you a drink and you don't want it, Whitmore has a great tip. "Say thank you, but you are trying to cut back, have to drive or you don't accept drinks from strangers," Whitmore says.

What if they've already sent the drink over? "Give the drink to the bartender and tell him or her to enjoy it," Whitmore says.

Have fun. Stay safe, and make sure to bring a great wing-man or wing-woman with you.

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There are reasonable arguments to be had on all sides of America's debates about guns.

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