Student groups to bring White House campaign to Northwestern

Jeanne Kuang, Campus Editor

Northwestern student leaders will participate this year in a White House public awareness campaign that calls on college students to help prevent sexual assault on their campuses.

Associated Student Government will partner with other student groups to roll out the “It’s On Us” campaign at Northwestern in the coming week, ASG president Julia Watson said.

The campaign, launched Friday by the White House’s task force on college sexual assault and the nonprofit Generation Progress, focuses on public awareness and education. It aims to encourage students, particularly men, to prevent sexual assault through bystander intervention and culture change, according to a White House news release.

“The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the rest of us also have a role to play,” the White House said in the release.

The White House has engaged student leaders at about 200 universities to participate in the campaign and lists organizations such as the Big Ten, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Viacom and Electronic Arts as partners.

“I think it’s a great idea from a ‘getting people involved’ standpoint,” Watson, a Weinberg senior, said. “You can change a culture if you get a lot of students involved.”

Shifting the culture around sexual assault would include defining consensual, “yes means yes” sex and “being able to recognize when something is not right,” Watson said, adding that ASG is looking to partner with groups and resources such as the NU Greek community and the University’s Step UP! bystander intervention program.

“It would be better if we program with other organizations and not just ASG,” she said.

Joan Slavin, Title IX coordinator and director of NU’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, said administrators are also “very attuned” to the “It’s On Us” campaign.

“University leaders, including the Title IX Coordinating Committee, will also be discussing ways that we can help support the momentum of this campaign,” Slavin said in an email to The Daily.

The White House task force, which was established by President Barack Obama in January, released a set of guidelines in April for universities to prevent and respond to sexual assault on their campuses.

Slavin told The Daily at the time that NU administrators would “closely examine” the task force’s recommendations.

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