It’s On Us continues efforts to end sexual assault on campus
It started as a simple catchphrase of shared responsibility. In 2014 it turned into a national referendum on ending sexual assault on college campuses, spearheaded by the White House.
Today, the It’s On Us campaign exists on more than 300 campuses. And, as of October 2015, Augustana is one of them.
The Augustana chapter of It’s on Us was made possible by a $300,000 Department of Justice grant that extends until September 2018.
In the year It’s On Us has been active at Augustana, program coordinator Lindsey Roberts and sophomore student advocates Madeline Jenkins and MacKenzie Brandt have led the group.
Though the first year of the program has been mostly a trial run to build student interest, Roberts said she’s excited to network with the community and continue to spread the word about It’s On Us.
“Getting to know students in this new setting has been really rewarding,” Roberts said. “One of our main goals is to get more students involved than last year. Our student advocates really make or break the program.”
For their part, both Jenkins and Brandt share Roberts’ passion for the program. After connecting with the former Solberg Hall director last year as freshmen, the two decided to spread awareness about sexual assault on college campuses by doing more than attending the occasional It’s On Us event.
“As students, we make the biggest impact when it comes to preventing this issue,” Jenkins said. “Students are more willing to go to their friends when it comes to sharing this type of stuff, and if I can be a friend that resonates with individual students, I think that makes an impact.”
The grant funds the It’s On Us student organization, but the majority of the money goes to training through the Department of Justice, building community partnerships, campus training for events like Step Up! and Sex Signals and ongoing educational training for faculty and staff.
Despite the large grant, evidence of student involvement is still a work in progress. Roberts hopes to continue building program support through campus-wide events and activities centered on the goals of It’s On Us.
Some of those goals include monthly catering events to themes outlined by It’s On Us. In September, students got to know Augustana’s Campus Safety officers at the Student Activities Fair to promote Campus Safety Awareness Month.
Likewise, in October events focusing on domestic violence, such as Purple Thursday and the Clothesline Project, were designed to educate students and staff about the prevalence of domestic violence and how to prevent it.
November’s theme of consent kicked off last Friday with bulletin boards outlining the principles of consent. A personal protection class and a consent post campaign are set to follow in the coming weeks.
Roberts said all this programming is an effort to raise awareness about topics that aren’t always easy to talk about—even among friends.
“We want students to understand and get involved with It’s On Us,” she said. “We design useful tools to support them, but in the end we want our students to be more active on these issues and turn out to be good community members.”
Getting students excited about the program and helping them understand its benefits have been the biggest challenges so far, Roberts said. Still, Brandt is confident students passionate about ending sexual assault are out there.
“It’s exciting to be there at the start of a program like this,” she said. “We get to see everything really take off. We’re hoping to get more and more involvement in the organization and see even more viewpoints.”
With events at Semester Shutdown planned for December, Roberts said she’s willing to take baby steps to get It’s On Us where she wants it to be.
“We’re fully prepared to do everything we can to grow this organization,” she said. “By April, the goal is to have a bigger crowd at our Take Back the Night candlelit walk and improve our social media success. It’s slow, but we’re continuing to learn every day.”