Illinois Student Senate launches ‘It’s On Us’ campaign

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Illinois Student Senate launches ‘It’s On Us’ campaign

Sarah Hochman, junior in ACES, is promoting “It’s on Us” campaign to Paulina Bautista, visiting scholar from Spain, at Quad on Oct 22.

Sarah Hochman, junior in ACES, is promoting “It’s on Us” campaign to Paulina Bautista, visiting scholar from Spain, at Quad on Oct 22.

Sarah Hochman, junior in ACES, is promoting “It’s on Us” campaign to Paulina Bautista, visiting scholar from Spain, at Quad on Oct 22.

Sarah Hochman, junior in ACES, is promoting “It’s on Us” campaign to Paulina Bautista, visiting scholar from Spain, at Quad on Oct 22.

By Elyssa Kaufman

In an effort to raise awareness about sexual assault, the Illinois Student Senate recently launched an “It’s On Us” campaign to encourage students to sign a pledge to take action against sexual assaults on campus.

“It’s On Us” is a national campaign launched on Sept. 19 by the Obama Administration and The Center for American Progress to change conversation regarding sexual assaults on college campuses. The campaign focuses on bystander intervention rather than victim blaming, which shifts the responsibility onto the community to be aware of sexual assaults and take action.

The national campaign promotes student governments and leaders to spread awareness on its local campuses.

The student senate approved a resolution at its last meeting Wednesday, allocating $2,960 for promotional items that will raise awareness, such as t-shirts, video campaigns, flyers, wristbands and posters that they plan to pass out to students over the next few weeks.

To kickoff the campaign, ISS held a booth on the Quad where students could sign a pledge aiming to encourage students to refrain from acting as a bystander and intervene in the event of an assault. Matt Hill, vice president-external of ISS, said at least 275 University students signed the pledge.

“This campaign is making it aware that eight in 10 victims of sexual assault know their attacker. When you look at that statistic it’s important to realize it’s literally on all of us to say something and do something if we see an assault,” Hill said.

Starting Nov. 17, ISS will partner with The Center for American Progress to support a national week of action. The senate will lead up to the week by engaging students and parents in discussion of the issue on Dads Weekend, which is the weekend before. A PSA video will premiere on the video board in Memorial Stadium at the Dads Weekend football game.

“‘It’s On Us’ announcements at Dads Weekend gives parents and students an opportunity to talk about sexual assault together,” Hill said. “This is breaking down the barriers between parents and their students through having the conversation about sexual assault.”

ISS hopes to partner with other University groups in order to spread the message throughout campus. Hill said video PSAs will feature athletes, clubs, sororities, fraternities and registered student organizations.

“As a Big Ten student government, we feel we have the responsibility to work with the University to bring sexual assault prevention and awareness to our campus,” Hill said.

“I really think this is an issue that every student, no matter what organization you are involved in, no matter if you are a freshman or senior, this is something you can get behind,” Sarah Hochman, vice president-internal of ISS said. “Sexual assault is an issue on our campus and we have seen that in the past couple weeks. I really think we are going to have good conversations from greeks to athletes to any student.”

Hochman said she believes sexual assault prevention in the past was focused on spreading awareness to females due to their higher risk of assault; however, she believes the new campaign reaches out not only to females, but men as well.

“As a woman representing the campaign, I think that ‘It’s On Us’ is going to reach males and females equally alike,” Hochman said. “I would love if the campaign hit guys even more than females because when the campaign first came out it was a lot of male athletes or politicians saying, ‘It’s On Us.’”

The Women’s Resource Center is also taking part in future campaign events.

“While violence affects people of all genders, it is often a gendered crime where statistically men are typically the perpetrator of gender-based violence,” said Rachel Storm, assistant director of the center. “Men’s involvement is critical.”

“College Bound Safe and Sound,” a program started in 2013, also raises awareness on the dangers of sexual assault. Jack Shilney, Chicago police officer and founder of the program, said the program teaches students the importance of traveling in a group with one designated person to ensure all members return home safely.

“The ‘It’s On Us’ campaign and College Bound Safe and Sound both encourage students to make an attempt to intervene or call the police when potentially viewing a sexual assault,” Shilney said. “I hope people realize that sexual assault doesn’t just pertain to college campus situations and can happen to any person anytime, anywhere.”

Elyssa can be reached at [email protected]