November 08, 2015
The public awareness and education initiative known as “It’s On Us” was launched in 2014 by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the nonprofit Generation Progress. The campaign, which calls for a “week of action” on campuses, seeks to empower college students—and all members of campus communities—not only to respond effectively to sexual assault, but also to prevent it in the first place, according to the White House website.
A three-hour “Take Back the Night” walk held on Sunday in the field house kicked off the week at Ursinus. The event included a candlelight walk, a speaker, an opportunity for attendees to share personal stories, and a mural with images from the “These Hands Don’t Hurt” violence awareness campaign.
The week’s events were planned by Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and Peer Advocates, a group that educates the campus about the issue of sexual misconduct and offers one-on-one support.
“The goal for the week is to raise awareness that this is definitely an issue on our campus as well as campuses across the country,” says Allison Katz, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. “This campaign is primarily centered around taking personal responsibility and holding each other accountable for these actions.”
Bryan Carter, a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, says that his fraternity wanted to be involved in planning the event because “a lot of the brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma have become very passionate regarding the topic of sexual misconduct. ‘It’s On Us’ allows our organization to be actively involved in bringing awareness to the subject of sexual misconduct, as well as providing victims with the feeling of safety through resources and open discussion.”
Information tables were set up in Lower Wismer through Thursday, and an open discussion on campus culture and sexual misconduct was held on Tuesday evening. Other events included a victim support workshop on Wednesday at noon in Olin Auditorium and a screening of the documentary It Happened Here on Thursday in Musser Auditorium.
“I think there are multiple goals for this week,” “says Kim Taylor, adviser of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and Title IX coordinator for Ursinus. “The first is to try to bring awareness to this very important topic and help spread the message that it is everyone’s responsibility to take a hard look at what we can do to prevent sexual assault. This is one week of activities, but it won’t stop there.”
Whether students are affected by the issue either personally or because of someone they know, Taylor hopes the week of activities will convey that no one is alone and there is support here. “I am very proud of Alison, Bryan and everyone who has gotten involved in the planning and implementation of this week. It truly is a privilege to work with such motivated and passionate students,” says Taylor. “Ursinus cares deeply about this issue.”