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These Anti-Drinking PSAs Posted At A University Were Called Out For Victim-Blaming

"How on earth was this campaign approved?"

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York University students are calling out an anti-binge-drinking campaign with a victim-blaming message for women.

The campaign, created by York Region, reads, "It's not just about keeping an eye on your drink but how much you drink." The other side reads, "Don't try to keep up with the guys."
Twitter: @YorkRegionGovt

The campaign, created by York Region, reads, "It's not just about keeping an eye on your drink but how much you drink." The other side reads, "Don't try to keep up with the guys."

The ad also has a mock-up of an Instagram post with the hashtag "#bingedrinking." You know, like the kids do.

Versions of the ad were spotted around the York University campus in Toronto, immediately drawing students' ire.

How on earth was this campaign approved? @YorkRegionGovt paying for ads shaming young women and victim-blaming.

To lay it out, the message is that it's a woman's responsibility to make sure her drink isn't drugged, and also to make sure she doesn't drink too much. The consequences aren't specified, but many interpreted the message to be about sexual assault.

@YRP thanks for letting York students know not to report their sexual assaults to you by victim blaming them before… https://t.co/bXlnXUJW0p

York Region was quickly called out for victim-blaming.

@YorkRegionGovt Bullshit. Let's spend ad dollars on promoting consent, not sexist nonsense that puts the responsibi… https://t.co/Ar0oCzlIJU

York University also has a notable history with rape culture. It was a police officer's remarks at a York event that inspired the SlutWalk movement.

@YorkRegionGovt this is disgusting and you should be embarrassed

The campaign is also out in time for orientation week and two-thirds of sexual assaults on campus are reported to happen in the first eight weeks of class. It's estimated that up to 25% of women will experience sexual violence during their postsecondary career.

The part about "keeping up with the guys" hasn't gone over well, either.

After a wave of backlash, York Region decided to suspend the campaign and wrote in a statement "we take this feedback seriously."

We recently received feedback about one of our campaigns. We take this feedback seriously and will suspend this cam… https://t.co/4LnRtOOfVN

York Region apologized to "anyone who took offense to this campaign," adding the message was meant to be about binge drinking.

"Our intent is never to offend," said the statement. "Instead, the intent of this campaign was to raise awareness about the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking."

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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