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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Kent Union at the University of Kent in Canterbury forced to pull Party in the Car Park summer ball poster after it was branded offensive

31 March 2014
by Lowri Stafford

A students' union has apologised and pulled a controversial poster featuring a photo of a lone woman, after a wave of outrage.

Kent Union, based at the University of Kent in Canterbury, plastered the posters around campus to promote its annual Party in the Car Park summer ball in June.

The offending flyer shows a woman standing on her own in a dark car park, with the caption "someone will lose their friends".

The controversial Kent Union poster

The controversial Kent Union poster

But some students have reacted with disgust to the poster, which they say perpetuates rape culture.

History and drama student Bethany Taylor, 20, who is also Kent Union's Women's Campaign officer, was among those to call for its withdrawal.

She said: "When I first saw it, I was disgusted. I think it's really harrowing for women students in particular who may have been attacked or had a bad experience on campus.

Kent Union Women's Campaign officer Bethany Taylor

Kent Union Women's Campaign officer Bethany Taylor

"It perpetuates the message that it might not have happened if they hadn't become separated from their friends, which is victim-blaming.

"A lot of students, both male and female, find it quite disturbing. The picture was also used without the consent of the girl featured. It only shows her body, which objectifies her."

Dozens of others took to Twitter to blast the baffling marketing campaign, including student Kate Wilson who unwittingly features in the poster.

Kent Union has since removed the poster and apologised that people had "misinterpreted" its meaning.

In a statement, the union said: "We would like to sincerely apologise to the students that have been offended by one of the posters we have designed to promote this year's Party in the Car Park.

"It was never our intention for the poster and its message to be interpreted in this way. 

"The concept behind our marketing of the event is to use real photographs taken last year combined with factual statements provided by students.

Kent Union at the University of Kent in Canterbury caused controversy

Kent Union at the University of Kent in Canterbury caused controversy

"We can confirm that the poster has been removed and will not be used within any further marketing.

"In the future, we will check our designs with relevant people to ensure they cannot be interpreted in a different way."

It is not the first time Kent Union has caused controversy with misguided marketing.

Last month, it sparked outrage by using a poster of murderous tyrant Joseph Stalin to promote its upcoming leadership elections.

The controversial poster used to promote student union election

The controversial poster used to promote student union election

The portrait of the evil dictator – complete with cartoon googly eyes – appeared on notices plastered across the Canterbury campus.

They were used to plug a week of political events called Campus Takeover, in the build up to an election next month to find five new paid staff members for the Kent Union.

But some students questioned the need to use a picture of the former Soviet Union ruler, whose regime of terror caused the death and suffering of tens of millions of people.


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