Reading, Pa- In September 2014, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden developed a campaign called, “It’s On Us,” which sets out to raise awareness about the importance of preventing sexual assault on America’s college campuses. The White House writes that the program, “aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.” Efforts are being made to encourage people to intervene because research shows that bystanders can help prevent sexual assaults.
The “It’s On Us” campaign means that it is literally on us to report sexual assault and make sure that it is never accepted in our society. The “It’s On Us” program has several partners supporting their efforts, which include: Electronic Arts, a video game company, PVBLIC, a grant-making organization, Mekanism, an advertising agency that specializes in targeting millennials, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an organization that fights for education and equity of women, Viacom, a mass media company and Participant Media, a television and film production company. There are over 200 American colleges and universities supporting “It’s On Us” on their campuses, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
There are four main goals that this program focuses on:
- Identifying the scope of the problem through campus climate surveys
- Preventing campus sexual assault and engaging men
- Helping schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted
- Improving and making more transparent the federal government’s efforts
According to the White House, “This campaign will complement efforts schools should be undertaking to hold perpetrators accountable and assist students who have experienced sexual assault.” Bestcolleges.com writes that approximately one in five college students will experience sexual assault during their education. “It’s On Us” hopes to give colleges and universities the resources that they need to make the efforts against sexual assault greater. They encourage students to take the pledge featured on itsonus.org to prevent sexual assault.
Many college campuses across the country have been making the news for sexual assault allegations against students, athletes, Greek life and faculty. A news story broke in July 2014 that raised questions that the Ohio State University band director, Jonathan Waters, knew about the sexualized culture of the band and did nothing to stop it. According to Fox Sports, the allegations were that he “ignored ‘serious cultural issues,’ some involving rituals where students were pressured to march in their underwear or participate in sexually themed stunts.”
After further investigation, it was found that Waters and staff members were present during the marches and Waters did not stop the sexualized hazing. A parent complaint fueled the investigation, which led to the firing of Jonathan Waters. Fox Sports writes that the Ohio State president commented and said, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our students…We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies.” The sexualized hazing also included nicknames that some students were given. Huffington Post writes that some of the nicknames were Pat Fenis, Testicles and Tits McGee.
Since this incident, Ohio State University has become a supporter of the “It’s On Us” campaign. The Lantern writes that OSU’s vice president for Student Life, Javaune Adams-Gaston, is pleased with the campaign. She said, “I am so proud of the energy and excitement that our student leaders have shown for this initiative, and they have the university’s full support, engagement and encouragement.”
The “It’s On Us” campaign is gaining more popularity across the United States. Even small liberal arts schools like Albright College, located in Reading, Pa., are taking part in the campaign to raise awareness among the student body on sexual assault.
Albright freshman Jay Bomgardner said that he has heard about the campaign and believes that it is very useful to have on campus. Bomgardner said that “It’s On Us” unifies the students and the organizations to help raise awareness about rape and abuse.
Albright sophomore Tia Camarata has also heard about campaign. Camarata said that “It’s On Us” is a great campaign to have on campus. When asked why, she said, “It seems like sexual assaults are a real problem on college campuses and this is the first step in stopping them.” Both Bomgardner and Camarata have not taken the pledge on itsonus.org, but they both are willing to do so.
The “It’s On Us” campaign has encouraged college students across the United States to join in on the cause and raise awareness on the importance of preventing sexual assault. Many students have taken the pledge on itsonus.org to stop sexual assaults among men and women, but others besides college students can do so too. The information that students are being taught is not only helping them to prevent sexual assaults on their campuses, but anywhere. It’s on us, America, to prevent sexual assault.
*The above pie chart shows the relationship between the victim of sexual assault and his/her perpetrator. Further statistics regarding sexual assaults on college campuses can be found on Bestcolleges.com.