The College of Southern Maryland has joined a national public awareness campaign, “It's On Us,” to help prevent sexual assault on campus. The campaign provides colleges with a practical tool, identified by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, to engage and empower students to take action against violence.
CSM is launching the “It's On Us” campaign during the college's fall festival events on each campus. Part of the campaign asks students to take a pledge that they recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, that they will identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, that they will intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and that they will create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
“The aim of this campaign is to shift the way we think about sexual assault by asking everyone to recognize their role in preventing it,” said CSM Associate Vice President of Diversity and Institutional Equity Makeba Clay. “CSM is committed to creating an environment on our campuses where students and visitors feel safe.”
The campaign supports student-led efforts that are already underway across the country and will focus particularly on motivating college men to get involved.
CSM is one of more than 200 colleges and universities across the country, partnering with the Center for American Progress' Generation Progress.
The task force report included action steps, recommendations, and best practices in the areas of identifying problems through campus climate surveys, prevention, administration response to assault and transparency of enforcement efforts by the federal government. The campaign seeks to engage college students and all members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault in the first place, according to the task force report.
According to a media release from the White House Task Force, most men are not comfortable with violence against women, but often don't speak out because they believe that other men accept this behavior. By getting men involved, the campaign organizers want to change this way of thinking and create new social norms. Research shows that bystander intervention can be an effective way of stopping sexual assault before it happens, as bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur.
As the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on preventing campus sexual violence shows, wide-ranging, population-based strategies like bystander intervention have the greatest potential to effect positive and meaningful change. Bystander education and training aims to heighten awareness, challenge social norms, decrease misperceptions about sexual assault, and provide skills that increase one's confidence to intervene effectively, according to task force materials.
To take the “It's On Us” pledge, visit http://www.csmd.edu/diversity/itsonus.html.