I wander into a room that sings a song from hidden speakers while people are arranged in clumps by the pizza table. A banner of hearts that reads “CONSENT BY DE-ZINE” is sprawled over that table. Unfamiliar with those around me, I slowly walk around until I stop at a table that has little blue books sprinkled on it. That’s when I see a girl with short, jet-black hair who greets me with a smile.
She introduces herself as D, the graphic designer of SAPAC: the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. I’m at the release party for their zine, but I don’t really know anyone at the event or know what’s going on (I showed up late because of a meeting). D fills me in: this zine, called “Consent by De-Zine” is a compilation of visual art and poetry that students from campus submitted. The content ranges from healthy relationships to the topic of consent, both being very delicate yet important points of conversation on a university campus setting. This zine happens to be the first that SAPAC has put together, and so this achievement is being celebrated through music, food, and good company. I share D’s delight in this accomplishment, and then she takes me over to other members of SAPAC so that I can have a chance to meet more of board.
Through energetic conversations and warm smiles, I meet Christina Kline, the investigator with the UM Office of Institutional Equity. I also meet members of SAPAC such as Rodrigo, who shared the experiences he’s had so far with SAPAC. At some point, some SAPAC members and I discuss the content of the zine. Grabbing one from the table in the front of the room, I flip through the colorful pages of the zine, impressed by my peers for taking the step of courage and publishing work that pertains to such delicate topics. D eagerly shows me her favorite page of the zine, which features cats and a lovely background of yellow. I continue to chat with her and others, about the zine, SAPAC, and eventually random things like speaking in different languages when drunk.
By the end of the night, I’ve made some new acquaintances, learned more about SAPAC, and got my own copy of the zine. I thanked D and Christine and others for being so open, and made my way out. I’m definitely planning on attending future SAPAC events, such as the their 12th annual art show: rEVOLUTION: Making Art for Change. There’s just something about taking heavy topics such as sexual assault & relationships, and translating that into works of art and words, that allow viewers to digest content that would normally make them turn their heads the other way.