University It’s On Us campaign leads by example

By Charlotte Collins

It’s On Us, a national campaign to help spread awareness about sexual assault, carried out its first Week of Action with help from over 40 schools, including the University.

Universities are looking to Illinois to model after as one of the most active in getting the campaign’s message out, according to Sarah Hochman, Illinois Student Senate vice president-internal. 

“The It’s On Us page on Facebook released our video,” Hochman said. “They’re looking at Illinois and a couple of other schools as leaders for how this campaign has been developing across the nation.”

Hochman said the goal of the Week of Action, held from Nov. 17 to 21, was to raise the campus’ awareness of the campaign, whether it be through giving away It’s On Us t-shirts in the Union or getting people to take the pledge.

She said the campus campaign aimed to, “get people thinking about how this is an issue on our campus, to take it seriously and to get people talking about it and question the way that we act.” Hochman added that social media was largely used to get people on campus to recognize the campaign and understand its goal.

Matt Hill, ISS vice president-external and one of the primary organizers of the campaign, believes the University has been successful in disseminating the It’s On Us message. He believes it is a vital to publicize the message, especially in a university setting.

“The campaign about bystander intervention and collective responsibility is crucial at any university,” Hill said. “It’s such a prevalent thing. Unfortunately on college campuses, one in five women will encounter some type of sexual assault.” 

While Hill said that quantifying the Week of Action’s success isn’t an exact science, he looks to the numbers of views and pledges as evidence. He said while other campuses have put out PSAs, they have not gotten as many views as Illinois’.

“We’re approaching 5,000 views and we were mentioned in a White House email to 90,000 people about what we’re doing here at Illinois,” Hill said. “We’ve distributed about 750 t-shirts to people who signed the pledge, which doesn’t include a lot of people in the area who have also signed the pledge in the course of this campaign so far.

Kaylee Barron, graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students, has been heavily involved with administrative work and outreach for the Week of Action and the It’s On Us campaign as a whole at Illinois. While the week may be over, Barron said the campaign will continue.

“The PSA video series has not stopped,” Barron said. “We do have another three more videos coming out targeting different populations on campus that hopefully will bring about some more change.”

Charlotte can be reached at [email protected].