A volunteer helps participants set up their dye stations during the Peace, Love, Consent event at Meier Commons on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Students gathered in the Nebraska Union greenspace Wednesday to tie-dye shirts at an event organized by the Center for Advocacy, Response & Education to promote consensual sex, even with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees.

Free T-shirts were given out to anyone who was interested, and workers and students alike stood around to help people tie-dye their shirts exactly how they wanted.

Once participants were satisfied with their shirt, they could cool off with a free snow cone at the nearby Kona Ice truck.

“I think it’s important for CARE to come out and be visible within our UNL community, provide a fun activity that’s also obviously themed about the importance of consent and make sure that people know that CARE is here as a free confidential resource right here on campus,” said Melissa Wilkerson, Interim Director of CARE.

Wilkerson added she wanted to make it clear that CARE is a resource for students to speak their mind about anything they deem important.

“They can come and talk to us in confidence. That means we don't have to report to IEC [Institutional Equity and Compliance], Title IX or the police, so we can be really survivor-focused and centered,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson decided that an event where students can tie-dye shirts was a great way to interact with and educate the students of UNL.

“If someone coming out only because they can get a free T-shirt means that they now found out about CARE or Big Red Resilience, that’s a double win right there,” Wilkerson said. “They’re coming for the shirt, and they’re leaving with information.”

In addition to allowing students to tie-dye a shirt, there were also tents set up with flyers, stickers and contact information, all providing information about CARE and consensual sex.

“I think it’s for a really good cause. I mean, obviously on college campuses, issues with consent come up a lot, so I think it’s really important that we have an office that’s addressing it,” said August Fritton, a freshman women’s and gender studies major.

The timing for this event was planned to fall within a period of greater risk for sexual misconduct, according to Lydia Coulson, Alcohol and Drug Prevention Project Manager with Big Red Resilience.

“The start of the semester till Thanksgiving break is what’s considered the ‘red zone,’ and that’s a period of time that students are at higher risk for experiencing sexual misconduct, sexual assault, things of that nature,” Coulson said.

One focus for this event was to target freshman specifically because they are at the highest risk for sexual assault due to lack of education and awareness, according to Jillian Baker, a senior mathematics major who helped run the event.

“I think it’s a good thing to raise awareness for, especially since this is the time of year where it gets pretty bad with freshmen and people in vulnerable situations,” said Joseph Winner, a sophomore english major.

“Raising awareness about it is a good thing to do, not just so people know it's wrong because obviously it’s wrong, but so people know that they have resources they can go to.”

For anyone on campus that wants to talk or is interested in learning more about CARE, they are located in Neihardt 118 and can also be reached at 402-472-3553.