Kent University's Union apologises as students accuse summer ball posters of ‘legitimising rape’

  • @layla_haidrani

Kent University's Union has come under fire from its students, who took to social networking sites to complain about a poster advertising its 2014 Summer Ball.

The poster, picturing a lone woman after a night out, features the headline: “someone will lose their friends”, leading many students to claim that Kent Union are using vulnerable women in their advertising.

Susuana Antubam, the national NUS women's officer for 2014 has described the poster as “horrific”. Recently, sexual assault has been a serious issue at British universities. The NUS’ recent Hidden Marks study of women students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault has revealed that 68 per cent of survey respondents have been subject to physical sexual harassment while nearly one in four has experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Rachel, an accounting student at Kent said: “As someone who has experienced countless unwanted sexual contact at the university club, I am disgusted that Kent Union has decided to use this to promote their event. Not only is it problematic to encourage the idea that women that get lost on nights out are ‘game’, but legitimising predatory behaviour is incredibly dangerous”.

Kent Union Women’s Officer Beth Taylor concurred: “I think it is a disgusting poster and completely undermines the values of the union and its zero tolerance policy. I think someone needs to be held accountable, and that it needs to be pulled.”

Kent Union has now removed the poster and apologised unreservedly. In a statement, it said “It was never our intention for the poster and its message to be interpreted in this way.”

“The concept behind our marketing of the event is to use real photographs taken last year combined with factual statements provided by students. In the future we will check our designs with relevant people to ensure they cannot be interpreted in a different way.”