By Natalie Corrigan, Staff Writer
Recently, the UMF Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), committed to sponsoring and participating in the national campaign, ‘It’s On Us.’ The campaign, launched by the White House this past September, aims to inspire students across the country to make an effort to prevent sexual violence by changing their personal attitudes and intervening on high risk situations, creating an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable.
According to the White House report, nearly one in five women in the United States, or approximately 22 million, along with one in 71 men, or 1.6 million, have experienced sexual assault at least once in their lives. Even more astounding is the fact that one in five women have been sexual assaulted while attending college.
“To gain a better understanding of the It’s On Us campaign, watch the ‘What if Bears Killed One in Five’ video,” said SAAC President Elizabeth Ferry. Ferry explained that UMF became involved with the campaign after the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) schools selected ‘It’s On Us’ as a conference wide initiative.
“This is a great way to spread awareness,” said Shane Hathaway, SAAC Representative for Track and Field. “At a small school like UMF, it’s great that we are starting with the athletes taking an initiative because athletes make up such a large amount of the campus community.”
Not only are SAAC representatives and athletes taking the pledge, but students from all aspects of the university have joined in as well.
“This is not just something UMF Athletes are doing, this issue affects everyone,” said Ferry. “The more aware people are, the more likely our student body can prevent sexual violence from occurring. The bystander effect is real; that’s where ‘It’s On Us’ comes from. It’s our job to stop sexual violence.”
Thus far, many students have pledged to take the necessary steps to prevent sexual violence and intervene whenever possible.
“I am a pretty vocal person, therefore I would not have a problem stepping in and saying something when it is needed,” said Hathaway. “I have had friends in a sticky situation regarding sexual assault, so it is something that is close to my mind and in my heart. This is something that can change people’s lives and by intervening, you can help save one more person that this may be happening to.”
As the campaign emphasizes, sexual assault is a serious matter, and it is on us to be proactive about possible high risk situations and end sexual violence on campus. To learn more about the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign or to take the pledge, visit www.ItsOnUs.org/#Pledge.