“It’s On Us” To Stop Sexual Assault

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“It’s On Us” To Stop Sexual Assault

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Last week, UIS took a stand against the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses. “It’s on Us” was a poignant, powerful series of events from September 9 to September 13. This event series highlighted issues of consent, bystander effect, LGTBQ+ relationships, alcohol and drug use, and the underlying attitudes that undermine survivors of sexual assault. 

There were a handful of occurrences that sparked such an awareness week on campus. 2011 saw a large, nationwide influx of Title IX violation reports due to survivors feeling more comfortable coming forward. The Obama administration created numerous initiatives to fight sexual assault at institutions of higher education, such as the amended Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. UIS has been holding “It’s on Us” for years as a way to rally students to the cause. 

Especially with such an overwhelming number of incoming freshmen, “It’s on Us” is held early in the school year to try to combat the “Red Zone” phenomenon. Survivors are most likely to be assaulted within the first six weeks of their freshman year as a result of myriad factors, such as naivete and lack of information on “red flags” or other pertinent topics. 

The awareness week kicked off with its opening ceremony on September 9 in the LRH Great Room, and it ended with the Dramatic Dialogues interactive education event on September 13 in the Student Union Ballroom. In between were two separate consent workshops, a discussion about the bystander effect, and a talk about LGBTQ+ dating. 

Throughout the week, students had the ability to take a pledge that included intevening as a bystander, acknowledging non-consentual or coerced sex as sexual assault, and supporting survivors. Hundreds of students participated, showing that consolidated activism is alive and well on campus. Rexanne Whorton, Program Director of the Women’s Center, commented on this amazing level of support: “It’s showing that we’re a campus that is pushing to be a safe place for everybody who comes here.” This lets survivors know that they are not alone, and they have a wealth of resources available to them should they decide to reach out for help. 

Even though “It’s on Us” week is already over, there are other ways students can help fight the sexual assault epidemic or seek help for something that happened to them. Identifying the attitudes that are underlying the bystander effect or sexual assault as a whole can be helpful in stopping these crimes from happening and attacking the problem at its core. Whorton states that students should think about “what it means to be a leader, what it means to engage those things.” The Women’s Center will be hosting relevant events in the future that will require student support. Contact the Women’s Center at (217) 206-7173 or [email protected]The Prairie Center against Sexual Assault (PCASA) in Springfield often partners up with the Women’s Center at UIS. Survivors who wish to receive trauma counseling completely free of charge can call PCASA services at (217) 744-2560 to schedule a consultation. 

The full list of sponsors for “It’s on Us” are as follows: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., CAP Honors, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Diversity Center, Gamma Phi Omega Int’l Sorority Inc., Gender & Sexuality Student Services, Student Government Association, UIS Athletics, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Women’s Center, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Alpha Phi Chapter. 

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