In support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, It’s On Us Lehigh held a walk for consent Monday April 24 and a speed dating event in Lamberton Hall on Tuesday April 25.
It’s On Us is a nationwide awareness campaign launched by president Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden in 2014 to help end sexual assault on college campuses, according to the White House archives. Two key aspects of the campaign are to teach colleges students never to be bystanders and never to place blame on the victim.
In preparation for the Walk for Consent, there was a T-shirt and poster decorating event in Williams Global Commons on Monday afternoon.
The purpose of the walk was to bring the community together with the same goal in mind, said Audrey Baer, ’17, the It’s On Us Lehigh representative. It was intended as a “low-involvement” event to get a lot of student participation.
On Tuesday, It’s On Us Lehigh held its first-ever speed dating event.
Natalie Bird, ’17, is a Greek life liaison to It’s On Us Lehigh. She said the purpose of the event was to promote healthy relationships at Lehigh.
“We thought speed dating would be a different outlet for people to meet each other in a safe and friendly environment,” Bird said. “Though the event is called speed dating, it is really more of a ‘speed friending.’”
Meghan Starnick, ’17, participated in both the walk and the speed dating events and believes this is a critical topic. She said its important to spread awareness for the topic and she just went to the event to meet new people
Sanjana Chintalapudi, ’17, the vice president of campus relations for the Panhellenic Council, also participated in both the walk and the speed dating events. She said there were an equal number of men and women participating and she was interested to see such a turnout, which she said serves as a reminder that consent is not just an issue that affects women.
While Panhel and the Interfraternity Council have been involved with the planning of the events, It’s On Us is a campus-wide campaign.
“The message is meant for the whole campus. We have marketed these events to RHA (Resident’s Hall Association), SAC (Student Athlete Council) and the Women’s Center, among others, in an effort to reach as many corners of campus as possible,” Bird said.
The It’s on Us national campaign came to Lehigh this past fall after Baer became a campaign representative this summer. Baer said the campaign’s main goal is to change the culture and make people more aware of sexual assault.
“If we educate and empower people who will engage in all types of relationships, which is a majority of students, hopefully they will be able to stand up when they see something that isn’t right and to engage in appropriate behavior,” Baer said. “If people can understand what consent is, how you can get consent and how you can give consent, then I will feel like I met my goal.”
Sana Ali, another It’s On Us Greek life liason agreed with Baer and Bird that sexual assault is an issue on all college campuses nationwide.
“Lehigh is no exception to the wrongful, degrading culture that occurs on most college campuses that normalizes sexual assault,” Ali said. “We are glad that there are so many people interested in the goals and purpose of the It’s On Us campaign, and we hope the campaign continues to grow and develop to meet the needs of all people on campus.”