Student groups pledge to stop sexual assault in ‘It’s On Us’ campaign

Christine Farolan

Nearly 30 Northwestern organizations have joined the national “It’s On Us” public awareness campaign which focuses on campus sexual assault.

Associated Student Government launched its website for the campaign Sunday night, as colleges across the country began the It’s On Us National Week of Action.

The campaign, which NU joined in September, is a joint effort by the White House and nonprofit Generation Progress to encourage students to be proactive in preventing sexual assault.

Because groups such as Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators and Rainbow Alliance specialize in this topic, ASG’s initiative focuses on facilitating conversation rather than hosting its own programming, ASG president Julia Watson said.

“The purpose of this campaign and having it be called ‘It’s On Us’ is that each person needs to rethink how they perceive and deal with intervening and keeping each other safe and self-reporting,” the Weinberg senior said.

ASG’s site features a video with members and students from other groups discussing the issue’s importance and urging fellow students to join the initiative. It also offers information about resources available to assault victims and tips for intervening in situations that could lead to an assault.

“We encouraged all the student groups who signed on, whether it be in their general meetings or if they’re having programming, to think about how they can talk about this,” Watson said.

Organizations that have partnered with ASG on the initiative include Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault, Northwestern Athletics, Dance Marathon, theater and entertainment groups, multicultural groups and Greek councils.

Communication sophomore Will Altabef, MARS’ spokesman, said he is grateful for ASG’s initiative in starting the campaign at NU.

“Nationally it has been successful at opening a dialogue and raising awareness,” Altabef said, “and that is critical to starting a campus culture shift.”

Throughout the year, MARS plans to use information provided by “It’s On Us” to update its presentations with national statistics, Altabef said.

University administration has been receptive to the campaign, Watson said. At a meeting of the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence earlier this month, Title IX Coordinator Joan Slavin extended an offer to students to contact the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office for assistance with the campaign. The office, which Slavin directs, will continue providing training on sexual harassment and misconduct prevention to faculty and students, the administrator said.

“Within the next few months, we hope to offer online training for faculty, staff and all grad students on sexual misconduct,” Slavin said in an email to The Daily.

SESP senior Anisa Mian, co-director of Global Engagement Summit, which signed on to the campaign, was personally drawn to the initiative because of its potential to effect change by altering perceptions of sexual assault.

“I’m hoping that this campaign will go beyond surface-level awareness and that students will educate themselves about the available resources as well as how to take action,” Mian said.

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Twitter: @crfarolan

Previous stories on this topic:

    Student groups to bring White House campaign to Northwestern
    NU to closely examine White House sexual assault recommendations