VAV hosts rally on technology, healthy relationships

Michelle Zhang

Voices Against Violence hosted a rally Thursday on West Mall to promote healthy relationships in the social media era. 

Part of this year’s Relationship Violence Prevention Month, the rally highlighted the importance of clear communication and consent when navigating romantic relationships on social media platforms.

Katy Redd, assistant director for prevention and outreach at the Counseling and Mental Health Center, said 27 percent of student counseling appointments last year were related to romantic relationship issues. 

Sociology junior Maggie Oxman, one of VAV’s co-presidents, said it was the first time VAV integrated technology into discussions on healthy relationships. 

“[We’re] trying to frame [this topic] in a technological way,” Oxman said. “Whether it’s dating apps, or it’s trying to argue over text, or you’re getting nude pictures that are unsolicited. We’re trying to navigate how to have a healthy, consensual relationship using technology as the medium.”

Part of the rally involved the dating app Tinder. Volunteers showed students different screenshots of Tinder conversations and asked students to explain how they would feel if they received similar messages. Volunteers gave away free T-shirts and asked students to answer questions relating to consent and interpreting the tone of text messages.  

Computer science junior Michael Li said misunderstandings occur frequently on social media.                                                                                    

“I’ve heard a lot of friends say they’re in abusive relationships, but it’s not very clear that one person knows they’re abusive to the other,” Li said. “Their boundaries aren’t exactly clear. There’s this kind of ambiguity within text messages.” 

Suchi Sundaram, a fifth-year accounting graduate student and volunteer at the rally, said technology has revolutionized what a relationship means and knowing the boundary between you and your partner is important.

“I think understanding that each person has a different definition of what a like, or what a status means, or what a message to another person means, [is important],” Sundaram said. “Because there are some social norms that are being developed for the changing technology, so we should be able to understand what the social norm is for using these social media.”