The White House announced the launch of the It’s On Us public awareness campaign Friday morning. The campaign is a collaborative effort intended to help prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
In Friday’s speech, President Barack Obama emphasized that survivors of sexual assault are not alone.
“This is not your fight alone,” Obama said. “This is on all of us, every one of us, to fight campus sexual assault.”
It’s On Us is a partnership with nearly 200 colleges, sports organizations like the NCAA and private companies with ties to colleges and universities.
Student body representatives at USC echoed Obama’s conviction.
“It’s not a men’s issue, it’s not a women’s issue, it’s not a Greek issue, it’s a campus-wide human rights issue,” Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Rini Sampath said.
At USC, It’s On Us will take place in conjunction with the Trojans Respect Consent campaign. Trojans Respect Consent is a Greek-centered campaign USG plans to launch in the coming weeks. According to Sampath, Greek students can display the Trojans Respect Consent emblem online, customized to the organization’s name and colors, in order to promote awareness of the issue. Greek students can display the emblem if more than 80 percent of members attend sexual assault education seminars.
Though Trojans Respect Consent currently has a Greek focus, representatives hope to expand it to other student organizations.
“The final goal is to have all organizations attend seminars on sexual assault,” Sampath said.
According to the White House blog, an estimated one in five American college women are assaulted. Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported and only a fraction of reports lead to punishment.
Some universities have established their own initiatives to fight sexual assault. In particular, The Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act, implemented by the University of California system, has received national attention and praise.
“There’s no doubt that colleges and universities have to step up their game. They have to take legal responsibility, and it’s a moral obligation to respect their students and hold perpetrators accountable,” Vice President Joe Biden said.
One of the goals of It’s On Us is getting men, particularly male students, involved in the issue.
Patrick Quah, a graduate student studying interactive media, said that he hopes It’s On Us will combat misconceptions about men and sexual assault.
“I think it’s presumptuous to say we have to ‘protect’ the opposite sex. I don’t think that’s the case at all –— it’s about policing our own gender and holding ourselves accountable,” Quah said.
Obama stressed that society must change for the reforms to be effective.
“From sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society still does not sufficiently value women,” he said.
Quah worried about the transparency of the reporting process.
“I think it’s a great thing to be taken to a federal level, although I think the main challenges will be that a lot of this is unseen and underreported, so transparency could still be an issue,” Quah said.