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Students switch away from Solo cups for sexual assault awareness

Carolina Conscious is an activist group launching a line of compostable plastic cups with messages printed on them to remind students to be respectful of one another and ultimately work to prevent sexual assault in the UNC community. They’ve ordered 26,000 cups so far.

Senior Ben Director said the cups are currently priced at around 11.5 cents a cup, about the same as Solo cups. He said the goal in the future would be to make the cups cheaper than Solo cups, but that would come with a larger distribution.

“Right now we’re kind of doing this targeted roll out with fraternities and residence halls but with the goal of eventually having them be sold retail,” Director said.

Director said fraternities like Sigma Phi, Phi Delta Theta and Chi Psi have already ordered cups, as well as Craige Residence Hall. He said he hopes to see the cups used all around UNC.

“Our long-term vision is that pretty much in place of Solo cups, everywhere in the UNC community you find these cups,” Director said.

Senior Asher Lipsitz said he came up with the idea for Carolina Conscious cups about a year ago, after working on the Title IX sexual assault campaign on campus.

He said he was trying to think of a way to make an issue like sexual assault, which can often be intimidating to students, more accessible.

“Every time you’re at a party, no matter if it’s 20 people or 500 people, there will be a Solo cup,” Lipsitz said. “It is ubiquitous, it is visible, it is cheap, so I thought, ‘What if we can find a way to include a sexual assault message on a Solo cup?’”

Lipsitz said in an effort to create a campaign to make students feel they’re a part of the solution in the fight against sexual assault, they created positive, inclusive messaging, are entirely student run and are financially independent.

Lipsitz said even though the cups are effectively a campaign, the students behind Carolina Conscious are running their distribution like a start-up and because of this are holding multiple launches for the cups, the first of which is at the end of this week.

Senior Patrick Lowery said the three overall goals of the group are to inform students across campus how big of a problem sexual assault is at UNC, to inform students of all the trainings and preventative measures they can take regarding sexual assault and to get students more involved in conversations about sexual assault and organizations on campus.

The cups aren’t designed to end the problem of sexual assault but rather to shed light on it, Lowery said.

“I don’t think this is going to end the stigma by any means. I don’t think it should, to be honest. Because I think that stigma is a reflection of a problem,” he said. “But what I think it can do is allow fraternities to be a part of the solution.”

Lipsitz said the desire to make these cups to help protect students on and off campus stemmed from a deep belief in the Carolina Way and what it means for kindness and mutual respect among students.

“We love Carolina,” Lipsitz said. “We really do enjoy it, and we want to find a way to make it a better place for students coming in.”

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