Members of the MTSU campus community are putting their signatures where their sensibilities lie in saying “no” to sexual assault.
At an Oct. 28 pledge drive at the Student Union, the Interfraternity Council collected promises from 136 people to get off the sidelines and get involved when they see sexual assault happening or about to happen.
Members of fraternities and sororities encouraged students to sign an online personal promise at www.itsonus.org to refuse to be bystanders when they see situations that are or have the potential to become sexual assaults.
A photo booth was available where students had their pictures taken in front of an MTSU “True Blue” backdrop while holding signs that read “It’s on us to look out for someone who has had too much to drink,” “It’s on us to never blame the victim” and other similar statements.
You can watch a video from the event below.
MTSU’s involvement in the “It’s On Us” campaign is part of a national initiative launched in September by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“Its primary purpose is to address sexual assault issues on college campuses and across the nation in general,” said Donald Abels, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
The promise reads:
“I pledge to recognize that nonconsensual 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, to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”
“It’s a personal commitment to keep men and women safer on campus,” said Mitch Denning, vice president of member development for the Interfraternity Council.
To spread the word, MTSU fraternities and sororities are touting the “It’s On Us” campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Twitter hashtags are #itsonus and #truebluemove.
“We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should,” Obama said in announcing the initiative. “We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect.”
A study published in the “Journal of American College Health” showed 19 percent of undergraduate women experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.
Men are also at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 71 men, or nearly 1.6 million men, have been raped in their lifetimes.
“It’s time for us as men to actually take a stand, to try and show that we’re more than just saying, ‘Hey, I’m True Blue,’” said Josh Hollingsworth, vice president for philanthropy and community service for the Interfraternity Council. “We believe in the words that we speak every day as fraternity men.”
For more information, contact Abels at 615-898-5812 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Denning at 615-417-8944 or email@example.com.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)