Taking a stand on consent: DePaul students respond and lead pro-consent movement ‘Consent the D’

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Randy Vollrath (center), a senior at DePaul, holds the preliminary T-shirt design for the Consent the D movement he started.  Vollrath says this is the student response that is “ long overdue” and hopes to put DePaul on the map, demonstrating that students care and are doing something proactive about sexual assault. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)

Randy Vollrath (center), a senior at DePaul, holds the preliminary T-shirt design for the Consent the D movement he started. Vollrath says this is the student response that is “ long overdue” and hopes to put DePaul on the map, demonstrating that students care and are doing something proactive about sexual assault. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)

Update 10/27, 10:15 p.m.: an earlier version of this story omitted the fact that 50 percent of the T-shirt sales will go to Rape Victims Advocates, a non-profit in Chicago.

As a response to calls from national leaders, advocacy organizations and The DePaulia itself, a student-led movement has emerged with the mission of raising awareness on the issue of sexual assault, one T-shirt at a time.

The movement, called Consent the D, was started earlier this month by a group of DePaul students who were not satisfied with the levels of progress being made on the issue. Senior Randy Vollrath, founder of the movement, said students need to stand up and show that sexual assault is not OK and that a movement like this is “long overdue.”

Drake Manalo (left) designed the t-shirts while Randy Vollrath (right) came up with the idea for “Consent The D” to show that DePaul students care. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)

Drake Manalo (left) designed the t-shirts while Randy Vollrath (right) came up with the idea for “Consent The D” to show that DePaul students care. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)

“The issue has rose to prominence in recent years, both nationally and at our own university. A few weeks ago there was a sexual assault a block off campus,” Vollrath said. “There’s been a lot of talk about the issue of sexual assault lately, but nowhere near as much action. The DePaulia boldly called for action on sexual assault a few weeks ago. This is the student response.”

The name of the group is a direct reference to the Fear the D T-shirts that DePaul has sold in the past. While the “D” in that context stands for “Blue Demons”, some have raised an issue with possibly implicit undertones being expressed. Playing off of that, the group is selling T-shirts that say “Consent the D”.

“We really wanted to engage the DePaul community and bring awareness about an issue that people care about,” Drake Manelo, designer of the groups T-shirts, said. “We changed the idea a bit from the initial proposals, especially after having gathered insights from other DePaul students.”

To make the shirts, the group employed the services of ThreadMeUp, a custom apparel startup founded by DePaul alums. The shirts cost $15 and half of the T-shirt sales will go to Rape Victims Advocates, a non-profit in Chicago.

“Randy first came to us with the idea,” Paul Salvucci, co-founder of the company, said. “He interned at ThreadMeUp for the summer and witnessed firsthand the power of ThreadMeUp Movements. He created the design concept with hopes to spread awareness around campus.”

The final t-shirt design that the group expects to receive this week. (Image courtesy of Randy Vollrath)

The final t-shirt design that the group expects to receive this week. (Image courtesy of Randy Vollrath)

According to Salvucci, the newly formed company allows for users to create and advertise their design on a custom product where supporters can pre-order and essentially crowd fund the costs of production.

“We have seen a lot of business from college organizations, especially DePaul,” Salvucci said. “Most of our team has graduated or are still enrolled at DePaul, so naturally we connected with their community first. It’s great to walk around DePaul’s campus and see shirts that we helped create.”

According to Vollrath, about 30 shirts have been purchased so far. On the shirt’s ThreadMeUp page, the goal in T-shirts sold is 1,000. The time to buy is limited, however, with the last day to buy being Nov. 8.

“The shirts are only available for a limited time, so you need to act quickly to get one,” Vollrath said.

With more than 250 “likes” despite little advertising to this point, the group believes that their message is resonating and that students are ready to get involved in the pro-consent movement.

“We had some great early stage growth. There will be special events exclusively for people who have purchased shirts,” he said. “We’re cultivating a community around the cause. It’s worth buying a shirt and following the page if only to be in on a big thing happening at DePaul.”

With a goal of getting to more than 1,000 “likes” by the end of the week, Vollrath promised many exciting things coming up with the movement.

“I’m very excited about our marketing strategy,” Vollrath said. “The next couple weeks will be exciting on the Facebook page and on campus. That’s all I’ll say for now.”

As part of bringing the community together, the movement established partnerships with the Alpha Epsilon Pi and Phi Kappa Psi fraternities on campus.

“We want as many people wearing the shirts as possible,” Vollrath said. “We want the DePaul community to come together and support the cause. And we want the country to know where DePaul stands on sexual assault.”