Advocates for Women of the World, an undergraduate student organization at Ohio State, revived its “Banner Up” campaign this summer to raise awareness for sexual violence by displaying messages on off-campus housing.

The banners featured messages such as “End rape culture” and “It’s a dress, not a yes” and were distributed to more than 30 fraternities and sororities.

Indeep Janda, president of AWOW, said she is eager to carry on the organization’s tradition that was inspired by a similar project at Indiana University.

Janda, a fourth-year in biology and French, said AWOW’s mission is to move away from a series of negative messages that contributed to rape culture previously displayed on off-campus housing and were adverse to the message that the university hopes to promote.

13 sororities and 18 fraternities hung banners as part of AWOW’s initiative to educate campus on sexual assault and misconduct. Credit: Stewart Blake | For The Lantern

“[The campaign serves] just as a general movement to push for a more inclusive, more positively cultured environment where everyone feels safe,” Janda said.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college. It is often a subject that is difficult to have conversations about. Janda believes that the “Banner Up” campaign changes the perception of silence that surrounds sexual violence.

“A lot of survivors have reached out and said ‘Thank you so much for doing this,’” Janda said. “We have a few other banners that support survivors specifically, and I think that when they see that, they feel safer, and they feel more included.”

The Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at Ohio State is one of several organizations that agreed to hang a banner in support of AWOW’s campaign.

Vinnie Pancini, a member of Delta Sigma Phi and third-year in public policy analysis, said he was driven by his fraternity’s motto, “Better men, better lives,” to set an example for other fraternities and the university at large by bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence.

“We want everyone to know that when they’re in Delta Sig’s company, they’re in good hands and that we’ll take care of them,” Pancini said. “Despite those statistics and those awful stories, there are good people out there who care about them and want them to have a fun and successful college career.”

Janda said AWOW plans to continue the “Banner Up” campaign for years to come to cultivate a safer and more welcoming environment for all Ohio State students.