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Dear Bystanders, It’s On Us

College is meant to be a place where people earn a valuable education and create timeless memories. The short time spent in college is meant to be treasured, not spent worrying about sexual assault on campus. Unfortunately, college campus sexual assault has become too prevalent to disregard, and according to It’s On Us, an initiative launched by Barack Obama in 2014, it cannot continue to be ignored.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 23 percent of undergraduate college females “experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” The former president joined with his Vice President at the time, Joe Biden, to help put a stop to the sexual crimes committed on college campuses. Obama’s initiative aims to educate people on the definition of sexual assault and help them identify methods to prevent it.

The initiative believes that it is on us “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.”

It’s On Us seeks mostly to inform potential bystanders on what they can do to prevent a sexual assault situation from occurring. It offers people the opportunity to make a pledge to help keep others safe from sexual assault. The pledge “is a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.”

However, it is important to note that It’s On Us does not only aim to prevent sexual assault for college females. The initiative is equally concerned with the occurrences of college males being raped or sexually assaulted, which is more than five percent among undergraduates, according to RAINN. The network also reveals, “Male college-aged students (18-24) are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.”

To prevent either sex from experiencing traumatizing violence during the supposed best few years of their lives, It’s On Us provides a list of tips so bystanders can recognize the issue and hopefully prevent it from occurring. Included on the list of tips are, “If you see something, intervene in any way you can,” and “There is no consent when there is force, intimidation, or coercion.”

With April recently declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is crucial to assume a new responsibility as a bystander and dedicate some time to educate yourself on the ways that sexual assault occurs and how to prevent it. According to President Trump, “As we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all share the responsibility to reduce and ultimately end sexual violence.”

Now more than ever, it is important to be mindful of the high statistics of sexual assault on college campuses and to keep a watchful eye out for any signs of danger while enjoying college.

Featured Image by on Flickr
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