“It’s On Us” combats college rape culture

The White House launched the “It’s On Us” public awareness campaign on Friday to encourage students — and especially male students — to actively prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

The campaign seeks to increase awareness and to motivate both men and women to intervene when they witness sexual assault and harassment.

“As we’re talking about ‘It’s On Us,’ we know that many organizations, schools and campus communities have their own campaigns – existing campaigns to raise awareness. It’s on us to focus on empowering those hard efforts and energizing new ones,” Senior White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal said in a press conference on Monday. “It’s on us so groups will be working closely with all state cultures to use effective organizing tools and create outreach to engage everyone in ending sexual assault on campus.”

The campaign was launched with a Public Service Announcement featuring several celebrities, including actors Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington and Joel McHale.

“The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the rest of us also have a role to play,” a White House press release stated.

Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life Terry Martinez wrote in an email to The News-Letter that she fully supports the campaign.

“I think we all have responsibility to create an environment that supports good decision-making and that we are all accountable for the actions taken by individuals at Johns Hopkins,” Martinez wrote.

One of the campaign’s main objectives is to engage men to speak out against other men who assault or who condone sexual assault. The White House hopes that by getting more men engaged in this issue, they can shift the blame away from survivors of sexual assault.

“It’s really important to involve men because in some ways, it is a men’s problem because men are the vast majority of perpetrators of rape,” senior Lucas Shores said.

Voice For Choice President Vinitha Kumar wrote in an email to The News-Letter that she thought the “It’s On Us” campaign targets the most challenging obstacles to curbing campus sexual assault.

“I think it is great that [the ‘It’s on Us’ campaign] focuses on culture,” Kumar wrote. “[The campaign] addresses how survivors of sexual assault need to be helped and regular everyday people can help.”

Although many students approved the intentions of the campaign, some were still skeptics.

“At its core, I don’t think it’s going to cause any harm, but it’s the matter of actually internalizing these things [that may be a challenge],” junior Kevin Wells said. “It’s going to be hard to pull through with that, but I hope that it works.”

Martinez wrote that both she and Vice Provost of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger are strongly committed to this issue and are looking forward to working with students.

“It is critical that friends and other bystanders be prepared to intervene to help prevent potentially dangerous situations from becoming sexual assaults,” Martinez wrote.

In January, the White House created the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, whose main aim is to work with colleges and universities to create a better environment.

Read more here: http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2014/09/25/its-on-us-combats-college-rape-culture-59620/
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