“It’s On Us” launched a nationwide Week of Action yesterday, with students at campuses throughout the country hosting events calling on everyone to play a role in ending campus sexual violence.
The It’s On Us campaign, coordinated by Generation Progress, was launched in September by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and builds on the White House’s campaign against college sexual assault. Various universities, non-profit organizations, sports teams, and women’s rights organizations have joined the campaign as partners, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
The focus of It’s On Us is bystander intervention, which was spotlighted in the “Not Alone” report issued by the White House Task Force to Prevent Campus Sexual Assault as a successful tool for shifting cultural norms around sexual violence and engaging individuals in creating safe spaces. Bystander intervention efforts, often targeted at men, empower individuals to speak up when they see violence or abuse, and intervene in high-risk situations where sexual assault might occur.
During the Week of Action, student activists will be encouraging individuals to take the pledge to recognize campus sexual assault, intervene when necessary, and help create an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. Activists are also hosting self-defense seminars, bystander intervention training, and creating their own Public Service Announcements on campus sexual assault.
“The Week of Action is building on the momentum from this fall and getting more people involved so we can include them next year and in the spring,” said Generation Progress’ It’s On Us campaign manager Kristin Avery. “Our goal is to really spark as many conversations as we can.”
Under the leadership of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the White House has made ending campus sexual assault a leading priority. In addition to creating the White House Task Force to Prevent Campus Sexual Assault, the White House has created a website, www.notalone.gov, where survivors can locate resources and learn how to take action against universities that failed to protect them.
One in five women are sexually assaulted in college. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of sexual violence on campuses, only 12 percent of campus sexual assault survivors report their assault to authorities or administrators. Dozens of schools are currently under investigation for mishandling sexual assault cases, and a rising tide of student activism has compelled legislators and community members to mobilize in recent years around awareness and prevention efforts.
Media Resources: It’s On Us; NotAlone.gov; Huffington Post 11/16/14; Feminist Newswire 9/19/14; White House Task Force to Prevent Campus Sexual Assault, April 2014; White House Council on Women and Girls, January 2014