There were 6 cases of sexual violence reported on our Georgia Southern University 2014 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) research tells us 68% of sexual assaults go unreported.
As we all know, there are likely many more than 6 victims of sexual assault on our campus. These victims have either chosen not to report or feel like they can’t report. Whether the assaults show up in our report or not, we don’t want this for our community. The faculty, staff, and students of Georgia Southern deserve a safe space to live, work, teach, and grow.
In September of last year, the White House launched the It’s On Us campaign. The mission of this multimedia campaign is to point out that we all share the burden of preventing sexual assault on college campuses. Partnering with cable networks, social action groups, sports teams, social networking sites, major corporations, and more, It’s On Us boasts a massive network of concerned groups and individuals that agree sexual assault affects all of us and should be handled by all of us. One of the biggest ways It’s On Us hopes to change the climate on college campuses is through bystander intervention. The initial It’s On Us launch press release cites CDC research showing “wide-ranging, population-based strategies like bystander intervention - which address individual, community, campus, and societal-level factors - have the greatest potential to effect positive and meaningful change.”
By taking an active role in speaking up when we see something or suspect something, we can protect others in our community from sexual assault. The It’s On Us videos, posters, tshirts, and advertisements are meant to make this point and encourage us to take their pledge.
I will be blogging about the It’s On Us campaign for the next few months, because I believe this is an important issue that cannot get too much attention. College campuses have long been known as danger zones for sexual assault. Though Georgia Southern has not made the news like some other campuses with high profile cases, it would be foolish for any of us to wait for that to happen to get involved. I've been challenged by Caroline Heldman's piece, "A Call for More Faculty Involvement in the Campus Rape Crisis." I too feel like it’s important for faculty to speak up on the issue of sexual assault. I know in the past, I’ve been lucky to not been the victim of sexual assault. I realize this is no consequence of my actions, dress, or anything else; that's why I call it lucky. My lack of experience with sexual violence is no excuse for me to stay quiet. I want to raise this issue and share this campaign on my blog, so that there are fewer people on our campus who think sexual violence is acceptable.
I’m far from the only person on our campus to make this a priority. For years, our First Year Experience office has put on the Sex Signals event. Each semester, hundreds of first year students attend a session. This semester’s sessions took place just last week. If you haven’t been to a session, you can watch this promotional video by Catharsis Productions, the group that performs Sex Signals around the country. Be aware that, like the Sex Signals program, the video does contain frank discussions of rape and sexual assault.
Since a good number of our students attended Sex Signals last week, I think this is a great time to share the It’s On Us campaign. My hope is that those of you who attended and appreciated Sex Signals will take the next step and pledge with It’s On Us. We (faculty, staff, and students) can use the It’s On Us pledge to continue the momentum of the Sex Signals event to get our community acting rather than just talking. The more people who see the prevention of sexual assault as their responsibility, the fewer Eagles will be victimized.
I encourage you to visit the It's On Us website, read the pledge, and consider taking action yourself. There are a number of ways to get involved, from sharing the site yourself, taking the pledge on social media, or simply talking about it with a friend. Just this week, a new video has come out from the campaign, that answers the question, "What's the one thing you can't have sex without?"
Maybe watching and sharing this video would be a good way to start.
Amanda J. Hedrick
Story collector, recipe enthusiast, educator, striving for a constant input and output of all things art and learning.