Sexual health poster creates controversy: Comments on a Chlamydia Awareness Week ad

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It would seem that students and the administration are at odds surrounding a poster incident here on campus last week.

As a way to promote Chlamydia Awareness Week, Students’ Representative Council (SRC) VP Social, Jen Brown, designed a poster encouraging students to get tested for chlamydia and other various Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

The campaign itself was a joint effort by the Sexual Health Centre, the UNB Health Centre and the SRC, although the SRC takes full responsibility for the poster.

While the purpose of the poster was to catch the attention of students, some argued that the image it portrayed of a couple carrying out a sexual act was too offensive.

Despite the image only being of stick people and not actual humans, the posters had to be taken down in response to UNBSJ’s poster policy. The policy states that posters may not be considered blatantly offensive and may be taken down at any time by the university.

Kevin Bonner, the director of Student Services, stands by the decision to remove the posters and says, “I believe the issue with the image is evident.”

Ryan Carroll, a student at UNBSJ, also agrees that the image was inappropriate and understands why it caused such controversy. “Although it is offensive, it shows the reality of students not being educated about the issues,” he says, “a more appropriate approach should have been taken.”

On the other side of the spectrum, some students don’t see a problem with the images at all. Colin Furlong, a fourth year education student, sees nothing wrong with the poster and doesn’t understand why it was deemed inappropriate. “What are we living in? The 50s?” says Furlong, “it grabs students’ attention about an important issue.” Emma Griffin agrees by saying, “it’s images like [this] that grab the attention of our generation.”

It would seem that the consensus from students is that the poster is not offensive to them personally but they understand how it could be to others.

This would suggest that a number of things such as age, religion and political beliefs would affect one’s opinion on risky images such as these.

Cody O’Toole didn’t find the poster to be rude and credits it to some of these factors: “I don’t find it offensive,” he says, “but I am not a conservative religious person. I could see how some would view it this way though”.

Brad Trecartin, SRC President reiterates the intention of the poster and still doesn’t see an issue with the image, “Although I do respect the decision to remove the posters, I do not think the image is offensive,” he says, “students are having sex and it’s not something that needs to be censored by the university.”

Other organizations on campus such as the Sexual Health Centre have never run into issues with their posters, particularly those promoting “sex week.”

Despite the poster being designed with the best intentions, it seems that the administration still has the ultimate say over what can and cannot be advertised around campus. This incident would suggest that the university will now be closely monitoring future posters in order to keep inappropriate images off the walls.

Emily is in her third-year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's an avid plant mom and a stern black coffee drinker. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find her listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation.