According to statistics, an estimated one in five women and one in 20 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Those distressing numbers have acted as a catalyst for the creation of a movement established in 2014, entitled “It’s on Us.”
“It’s on Us” was created by Barack Obama, the White House Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assault, and the White House Council on Women and Girls in an effort to promote the conversation of ending sexual violence. This conversation was specifically targeted towards colleges and universities in the hopes of promoting assault identification, bystander intervention and survivor support.
During fall semester Millersville University (MU) participated in this cause by hosting their second annual “It’s on Us” campaign. The campaign was headed by Dylan Hyer and Jonah Evans from MU’s Interfraternity Council, as well as Jayme Trogus, Lisa Filippelli, and the Peer Educators team, all from the Center for Health Education and Promotion (CHEP).
“Because of our success from last year we wanted to focus this semester’s week of action on the pledge drive. Signing the pledge means you’re making a personal promise to yourself to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported,” said Hyer.
As a week-long initiative spanning from October 21-27, 2018, the week started with a “Kickoff for the National Pledge Competition” in which Hyer and Evans taught students the importance of Title IX, consent and bystander intervention through an interactive presentation. This kickoff jumpstarted the campus’s curiosity regarding this movement, which was followed by The Interfraternity Council hosting pledge tables to promote signing the It’s On Us pledge. They also launched a campaign through social media in order to increase the amount of MU student’s signatures.
Ultimately, the team collected 715 signatures, 215 above their goal and three times the amount of signatures they received the previous year. This placed MU as number three in the top three campuses with the most number of pledges, following West Virginia in first place and Miami University in second; both with 17,000-22,000 more students in comparison to MU.
“[Our third place win] made me really proud that this movement is a priority at our institution as well as hopeful that our culture is changing and not accepting of sexual violence,” said Jayme Trogus, director for the Center for Health Education and Promotion (CHEP).
MU’s It’s on Us team was also awarded a grant of $30,000 by the state to continue these efforts. They plan on using this grant to continue to support the It’s on Us program, develop a Title IX peer education program, host speaker events, offer training for staff, faculty and students at MU regarding sexual assault, participate in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ (NASPA) Culture of Respect Collaborative and much more.
Moving forward, a public service (PSA) competition will take place in fall 2019. During the “Week of Action,” student groups will create their own PSA’s with a provided script. The videos will be shared on the MU “It’s on Us” social media accounts and a winner will be selected and awarded a pizza party for their organization.
“In the future, I hope to achieve an even more supportive environment for survivors and a campus community, including students, faculty, and staff, who do not tolerate sexual assault. Movements take time, effort, and support and I think that this is something that we can achieve if we keep pushing and putting in as much effort behind the scenes that we already do,” said Filippelli, a graduate assistant in the CHEP office.