UB joins nationwide 'It's On Us' sexual assault prevention campaign

Ten students including UB athletes, students involved in Greek life and Student Association (SA) officials were featured in a two-minute video against sexual assault.

The video, posted online Nov. 5, is part of the “It’s On Us” campaign. UB is one of 233 campuses nationwide participating in the campaign launched by the White House to stop sexual assault. The goal of this campaign is clear and simple: It’s on us to stop sexual assault.

“It’s On Us” calls for citizens to make a “personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault,” through active involvement, according to its website.

The “It’s On Us” sexual assault campaign created Public Service Announcements (PSA) with celebrities and professional athletes, which looked similar to the video UB produced.

From Nov. 10-21, UB student leaders launched the “It’s On Us” campaign by making a pledge to recognize what is considered sexual assault, identify those situations, intervene and create a safer environment.

Students were able to sign this pledge in the Student Union on North Campus and Harriman Hall on South Campus.

SA is also collaborating with Wellness Education and Services, SBI Health and the American Association of University Women, by offering interested students and faculty members events geared toward prevention and awareness of sexual assault.

“I think ‘It’s On Us’ is really important because it empowers everybody to say, ‘If it’s on me, you know, I’m going to find a way to intervene or find a way to safely speak up,’” said Sharon Nolan-Weiss, director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “It really is a way we can come together as a community and say this is the type of community you want it to be.”

Minahil Khan, a junior political science major and UB Council student representative, said she began working on preparing for the campaign in September.

“The unique thing about this campaign is it encourages student leaders on campus to take a stance rather [than] having it initiated from the university,” she said. “This is a problem that happens all across college campuses and we’re going to do our part to make sure it doesn’t happen on our campus.”

Kesha Lanier, assistant director of affirmative active in the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said all students should have the opportunity to know about the available options. Title IX requires schools to take appropriate action when the university is notified of sexual assault and sexual harassment that could impact a student’s ability to participate in educational programs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Oct. 2 for all SUNY schools to have a uniform sexual assault policy. UB’s policies were already similar to Cuomo’s proposed changes, according to UB officials.

“I thought [the video] was a great opportunity to change the dialogue [and] change the environment or the stigma behind sexual assault,” said SA President James Ingram.

He said creating a standardized campaign is great way to help educate students in sexual assault prevention.

Nolan-Weiss said the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign is important for UB students because it educates them on the different ways sexual assault happens on college campuses. She said typically, students who are assaulted know their attacker and some attacks happen when drugs and alcohol are involved.

The National College Health Assessment, a study that is conducted every three years, showed the numbers of sexual assaults reported at UB was less than five percent.

Nationally, three percent of college women are raped each academic year, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, but less than five percent of college women who are victims of rape, or attempted rape report it to the police, according to National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“In terms of numbers of reports, we know for a campus this size, we would expect more,” Nolan-Weiss said.

Khan said students have to understand how prominent sexual assault is on college campuses and say, “I understand the definition of consent and I am going to do my part to raise awareness of it.”

She encourages students to take pictures of their pledge signatures and to upload them to Facebook where the SA will be promoting the posts.

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