Tulane University released the results of the climate survey on sexual misconduct in January 2018. Of the 47% of the student body who contributed to the survey, a staggering 59% of undergraduate students reported experiencing sexual assault since enrolling at Tulane.

In the spring semester of 2018 I was hired by Tulane University’s Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking to lead a seminar — Project IX: Student Design to End Sexual Assault — where students would design activations and interventions on campus throughout the semester in order to address the issue of sexual assault and work toward changing the campus culture.

This was a pilot project to see what is possible when students are instigating conversation and producing their creative interventions on campus, and to gauge the necessity of this kind of work (and the structures to support it) in the future.

The intentions were:

  • To engage in generative, collaborative processes where all voices in the room could be heard

  • To empower students to be leaders in an on-campus culture-shift by giving them tools in facilitation and production

  • To develop a concept from start to finish

  • To imagine and produce interventions on campus which would incite dialogue about sexual violence and the results of the climate survey

  • To ask: What makes dialogue ? What makes dialogue successful?

The outcomes were:

  • Students in the Dialogue Team felt empowered as leaders in their communities, and engaged new people in the conversation / made them aware of the Project IX work

  • Students learned the skills of collaborating, and designing and producing their ideas from start to finish

  • We collectively practiced and embodied collaboration (which is an element of consent-culture)

  • Students found that public interventions on campus forced their peers to have a response (even if it was ignorance). These activations incited conversations about consent, rape, and assault amongst students who might have otherwise ignored the conversation.