University, student group adopts White House campaign

Cassie Sullivan and Cassie Sullivan

A nation-wide campaign started by the White House that aims to raise awareness about sexual assaults on campuses has reached

the University.

The campaign called “It’s On Us” is a student initiative meant to educate students on sexual assault and awareness.

Jackie Wells, a doctoral graduate student within the Office of Equity and Diversity, said the campaign is a new initiative on college campuses.

“At Bowling Green, it’s a pretty new initiative, so our work group has been meeting for three weeks at this point,” Wells said. “We are working to implement the national campaign on Bowling Green’s campus.”

From the White House, the “It’s On Us” campaign is from a taskforce meant to protect children from sexual assault, looking at how college campuses can be made safer for students, along with possibly changing how people think about sexual assault, Wells said.

“Our goal is to change the culture around [sexual assault] and ideas around consent,” Wells said. “And oftentimes, students have misconstrued ideas around both of those topics because of experience or because of the media. This program is meant to give students new ways of thinking.”

Brian Kochhesier, the president of the Undergraduate Student Government [USG], said “I hope we can spread more awareness to the issue of sexual assault; really work to shift the culture. We want more awareness for the topic in general; more to do with the impact of bystander intervention, more advocacy for victims.”

Junior Cyndi Hill thinks a campaign like “It’s On Us” is a good idea.

“I’m on Tumblr a lot and there’s a lot of talk about [sexual assault awareness] all of the time and a lot of articles saying, ‘this is consent and this isn’t consent,’” Hill said. “It’s definitely something that needs to be widely done.”

With a campaign like “It’s On Us,” the understanding of consent can be made clearer to help end any confusion between what is and

isn’t consent.

Along with consent, the campaign will help students understand what bystander intervention is and how they can participate through a program that is run by students.

“And also, the autonomy to take ownership over their actions and so thinking about what they can do as a bystander, what they can do as a community member, as an individual who maybe be in the position to help keep other students safe,” Wells said. “On our campus, we’re doing just that. The taskforce is mostly students and the goal is to have this be a student initiative. [The initiative is] led by students, talked about by students and implemented by students.”

Students involved in the campaign include peer educators, senators, the student body president, representatives from the athletics department and representatives from both the ROTC program and Residence Life. The campaign also hopes to reach out to the campus and involve faculty and staff.

“Our goal was to pull students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds,” Wells said. “We’ve also had interest pop up from individual students who said they want to get involved. We are hoping to get students with a wide variety of experiences and voices on the table.”

With a wide range of voices to help the campaign, Wells hopes that after the education piece goes out, students will be willing to sign an online petition to get more students involved in understanding what it means to be a bystander and what consent means. In order to make sure students understand what the campaign is about, the campaign is working on an educational piece so students are aware of what they are signing.

“There’s an online pledge that is part of the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign,” Wells said. “We want the students to be well informed and know what bystander intervention is and we want to talk about consent. We want to change that culture before they go online and randomly sign a pledge.”

Kochheiser said the best way to explain the campaign is that it’s about changing the culture within the country in regards to sexual assault. It’s one of the topics that many people don’t want to talk about, but need to, he said.

“The best way to describe the campaign is to make a change of our culture as a country and how it views sexual assault,” Kochheiser said. “It really brings one of those topics that people don’t necessarily like to talk about out in the open and make everyone work together to find

a solution.”

While the campaign strives to clear up the misunderstandings of what bystander intervention and consent are, junior Molly Chacey wants to know if it’s possible for more to be cleared up about other things involved when discussing sexual assault.

Chacey thinks the campaign might help clear up cases that might or not

be rape.

“What bugs me is that it’s only considered rape when it gets caught or when it’s reported,” Chacey said. “What bugs me is that I don’t know enough about it. When you’re drunk, did you both rape each other? Or did one rape another? If you’re both gone, what happens then? Or is it whoever reports it first? And neither of you were competent enough to consent. Does it get brushed under the rug then? It’s so bad and so not OK.”