By Samantha Biastre
The “It’s on Us” campaign was launched on Sept. 19, 2014, by the White House to help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses across the United States. On Jan. 22, 2014, President Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The “It’s on Us” campaign was then developed. The White House Task Force initiative caught the eye of KU acting President Dr. Carlos Vargas in April of 2014.
Vargas and the dean of students, Robert T. Watrous, initiated bringing the campaign to campus, and started planning activities revolving around the initiative to begin this semester. Many departments on campus are involved in the “It’s on Us” campaign, such as the Women’s Center, the University Relations office and the Dean of Students office. Matt Santos, director of university relations, stated that bringing the “It’s on Us” campaign to KU’s campus is a “KU collaborative effort between departments.”
The goal of the campaign is “to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” The goal of the campaign is to lessen the statistics reported through this campaign like, “40% of survivors fear reprisal by their attacker” (itsonus.org).
All of the materials involved in the initiative are given to college campuses for free from the White House and any promotional funds needed for activities come from the university relations office.
Grace Hill, director of the women and GLBTQ center’s said that the initiative is, “All about creating awareness and commitment to enhance society and grow as a college campus.” One way she hopes to do that is by getting the word out about the programs and initiatives that are already on campus. One of these programs includes the Heart at KU which operates under the direction of Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC) to provide support and safety as needed to any individual who is a victim of sexual assault or relationship violence.
Hill stated that the “It’s on Us” campaign is a new look at bystander intervention programs with the use of social media to change society. The first “It’s on Us” commercial was released on Kutztown University’s YouTube page on Jan. 28 and a new one will be released every two weeks. There will be awareness tables set up around campus, posters hung up around campus and public address announcements at sporting events. There will also be commercials and interviews on Kutztown University Radio (KUR), and announcements in The Daily Brief and Bear Essentials.
One event that will be going on in conjunction with the “It’s on Us’ campaign this semester is, author of Reality Bites Back, Jennifer L. Pozner coming to speak at Schaeffer Auditorium on April 1 at 7 p.m. Pozner will speak about the effects of violence in the media. Another event that will happen on campus is the Clothesline Project, which will be held on April 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. in the Bell Plaza. Sexual assault survivors and friends of survivors are invited to participate and decorate a t-shirt to add to the clothesline. This is a moving testimony that demonstrates the pain and suffering of survivors but also celebrates their strength and courage.