Through time-honored campaign, SpeakUp flags potential abuse


Jess Kaplan, Kaitlin Bonacci, Print Managing Co-Editor, Editor in Chief

Each spring since 2016, SpeakUp, a student-run organization responsible for misconduct prevention, education and awareness campaigns on campus, puts red flags on the lawn outside the Elaine Langone Center to represent the individuals impacted by sexual, dating and domestic violence. The flags serve as visual reminders for campus community members to say something when they see warning signs––or “red flags”––suggesting a domestic violence situation, abusive relationship, or sexual assault.

Lily Shaner ‘21, a SpeakUp Ally, explained that the purpose of The Red Flag Campaign is to increase awareness of unhealthy, manipulative and coercive behaviors in relationships. “The Red Flag Campaign is crucial to our campus as it sheds light on the many ‘red flags’ of a relationship, as well as offers messages of support to victim-survivors of sexual and relationship violence. Students are able to read all of the flags on the upper ELC lawn, which I think helps us all reflect on how big of a problem these forms of violence can be to our Bucknell community and to everyone,” Shaner further explained. 

The Red Flag Campaign is a project of Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Virginia’s leading voice on sexual and intimate partner violence, and was started by college survivors and allies. The University is one of 500 colleges to participate in the campaign. 

Usually, SpeakUp tables in the ELC and encourage students to physically write their experiences on the red flags while the blue and orange flags along the perimeter of the lawn feature words of encouragement as they are more visible to passers by. This year because of Covid, SpeakUp accepted student submissions via their Instagram story. “Because of Covid, we could not table as we normally would. So we decided to  utilize our Instagram, and build a strong following leading up to the campaign. We continued to spread the word by reposting the SpeakUp campaign on our own personal accounts to get even more people involved. We then had trusted peers read over the answers to ensure the submissions remained anonymous and the messages were immediately deleted after,” explained  Zoe Wilson ‘23, SpeakUp Ally. 

Wilson was impressed by the amount of responses SpeakUp received, and hopes that the organization will continue to use social media to engage with students. “I actually think we got more submissions on social media than we would have if we tabled just because the hesitance some people may have had about doing it which helps continue to build our social media presence,” Wilson said. 

SpeakUp peers have the opportunity to educate fellow students on sexual misconduct, consent, relationship violence and stalking, in hopes of eradicating sexual violence on campus. The organization hosts a number of events throughout the year including Take Back the Night, the Clothesline Project, No More Month, Purple Thursday, Sex Week, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. SpeakUp is currently fully student run as the University has not yet replaced Rebecca Geiger as the University’s Title IX coordinator, which Wilson acknowledges further complicated Speak Up’s mission. “SpeakUp is a very important organization to have on campus. Student leaders are trying our best to keep Speak Up alive, even with little support from the administration. We have been going through a back and forth with various deans and people who in previous years didn’t have to directly deal with Speak Up because there were people in the Title IX position of interpersonal violence prevention coordinator. It’s been really tough to get this organization up and moving, but we’ve been really working hard.” said Wilson. 

One consequence of not having an administrative Title IX coordinator was the inability to host first year training workshops. “Making sure upon students arrival to Bucknell they understand the warning sign ofs an unhealthy relationship and how to intervene if you see something unhealthy. We are working very hard with administration to get these workshops to first years by the end of April (over Zoom) to make sure they get that education and we have a new group of peers over next summer,” said Wilson. 

For more information on the Red Flag Campaign and SpeakUp, reach out to [email protected]


(Visited 194 times, 1 visits today)