President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched the It’s On Us campaign on Sept. 9, 2014. It’s On Us is a nationwide initiative designed to raise awareness for gender violence and sexual assault and encourage people to take action.
Lehigh is one of several schools nationwide to establish it’s own chapter of It’s On Us to spread awareness and work to stop sexual assault on campus. The idea was brought to campus this year and the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council and Office of Gender Violence Education and Support got involved.
Nov. 28 marked the first day of the Lehigh Week of Action during which It’s On Us hosted a series of events. They released Lehigh’s It’s On Us video, based on a similar video released by the White House. Students were encouraged to sign a pledge against sexual assault in STEPS. The campaign also sponsored a Lehigh women’s basketball game and placed stick figures on the front lawn representing the number of students statistically affected by sexual assault.
Devon Bibbens, ’19, showed his support for the campaign as he attended the Lehigh women’s basketball game Wednesday evening. Bibbens said people cannot just push an issue like sexual assault aside, as it affects different universities around the country.
Bibbens plays for the Lehigh men’s football team and found out about It’s On Us through a fellow athlete on the Lehigh women’s basketball team. Bibbens signed the pledge and hopes to bring awareness to the campaign.
“(I will) definitely try to spread the word to not only my teammates but other friends,” Bibbens said.
A discussion was held in the UC Thursday to allow a safe space for students to share their opinions and ideas about sexual assault on Lehigh’s campus. Brooke DeSipio, the director of Gender Violence Education & Support, helped facilitate the event.
In attendance was Theresa Ridings, ’18, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Ridings attended the talk because she said she wanted to learn more about this issue. Ridings said she would like to bring something back to her chapter in an effort to help with sexual assault issues on campus.
Two of Ridings takeaways from the discussion were the concepts of “negotiation past the no” which is about how men tend to take “no” as a negotiable answer and “sexy, but not sexual” which sums up the idea that women are supposed to be seductive but not act in accordance.
These issues are not just Lehigh issues and pose more as a “national kind of dynamic of things going on,” Ridings said.
Audrey Baer, ’17, is the It’s On Us representative on Lehigh’s campus, as well as a member of Break The Silence.
Baer’s words aligned with those of Obama when he explained his hopes and intentions for the campaign.
By signing the pledge people are “pledging to not be a bystander (and) pledging to do something,” Baer said.
She said that It’s On Us means it’s on everyone.
Though it was postponed for next semester, the Walk for Consent was supposed to occur Thursday evening. The purpose of this walk would have been to promote ideas like silence is not consenting.
“Silence does not mean consent. So if somebody doesn’t say anything it’s doesn’t mean they still want it,” Baer said.
The stick figures placed over the front lawn also reflected the idea of separation between silence and consenting. Baer said the point was to raise awareness and have people think twice. She said through the Walk for Consent and the stick figures, people would go out that Thursday night with these ideas in the back of their minds as they participate in Lehigh’s party scene.
Baer said Lehigh seems to have the right mindset on sexual assault and she would like to see the Lehigh mindset reflected more outside of campus on a universal level.