College joins national campaign to help prevent sexual assault on campuses

Publication Date

As part of a new national effort aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses, Union has planned a number of activities and programs.

On Friday, President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. launched a public-service campaign, “It’s On Us,” that hopes to fundamentally shift the way sexual assault is viewed on campuses “by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.”

Enlisting the support of major college sports leagues and prominent celebrities, the campaign will put a greater emphasis on motivating college men to get involved. One in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, many of them during their first year by someone they know, according to the White House.

Union is one of nearly 200 colleges and universities that have agreed to participate in the campaign, launched in partnership with Generation Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress.

To learn more about the national campaign, click here.

At Union, students, faculty and administrators will be asked to take the “It's On Us” pledge.

The College is also expanding its Bystander Intervention Program, which enlists and trains members of the campus community to intervene in situations where sexual harassment or sexual violence appear imminent.

Begun last spring, the program will train student leaders who represent a number of athletic teams, including the men’s and women’s hockey teams and the lacrosse team. Leaders of Greek organizations, as well as Safe Space, Leadership Diversity Council and others, will also be trained.

In addition, the new student-led committee, the Committee on Consent Education and Awareness (Shayna Han '15, Sydney Giller 16, Kyra DeTone '16 and Antonia Batha '17) , will host a Sexual Assault Awareness Week from Sunday, Sept. 28 through Friday, Oct. 3.

A number of activities are planned, including:

  • A weeklong “It’s On Us” handprint project in all residence halls, theme houses and Minervas. Participants will be asked to leave their handprint on a banner, symbolizing their pledge to not use their hands for violence, and to use their strength to make sure victims are survivors.
  • 9/28: Self-defense workshop taught by Samantha Griffiths '15, who holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. 11:30 a.m. on Rugby Field. (Rain location: College Park Hall)
  • 9/29: LGBTQ discussion, "Do You Have The Green Light?" led by SAFE (Student Allies for Equality) 5:30 p.m. in Hale House courtyard. (Rain location: Sorum House)
  • 9/30: Brave Miss World, a film that tells the story of Linor Abargil, Miss World 1998 and survivor of sexual violence, 6 p.m. Reamer Campus Center
  • 10/1: Consent Garments. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Reamer Campus Center
  • 10/1: Attorney Elizabeth Fisher ’81 will discuss sexual violence and the law at a dinner and discussion, 5 p.m., Breazzano House
  • 10/2: Jonathan Kalin, a Colby College graduate who started an organization centered around consent and sexual assault awareness. Talk during common hour in Beuth Common Room; keynote in Reamer Auditorium for athletes at 7:30 p.m.; dinner and discussion in Messa House at 5:30 p.m.
  • 10/3: Safe Space hosts “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” beginning at 4:30 p.m. in front of Hull Plaza. Men are asked to walk in high-heeled shoes to raise awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

Union had been reviewing its sexual assault policies and procedures for more than a year before President Obama created a task force in the spring to examine the issue.

The College’s focus has been on refining definitions of sexual misconduct and on ensuring an environment that encourages victims to come forward while maintaining equal rights for the accused.

In his Opening Convocation remarks, President Stephen C. Ainlay urged the campus community to support the efforts, including the one led by the White House, to prevent sexual harassment and sexual and relationship violence on college campuses.

“Let me be perfectly clear: There is no place for these behaviors in our community,” Ainlay said. “Familiarize yourself with our policy on sexual misconduct, relationship violence and sexual harassment. Truly, it’s on us.”