‘It’s On Us’ Event: teaching students how to prevent violence
Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and to kick it off, the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy Support Center (VPAS) held an event called “It’s On Us” in the bottom floor of the Adanti Student Center. The gathering was meant to educate students on the bystander effect, by using a different approach than just lectures. There was ring toss, bobbing for apples, trivia, free monster drinks and more that tied together to educate students on the topic of sexual misconduct in a light-hearted manner. The “It’s On Us” event is meant as a precursor to Take Back the Night, a yearly gathering on campus of where survivors of sexual assault come together with student supporters and speak out on the topic.
“‘Take Back the Night’ is a march from the Student Center to Hickerson Hall. It’s a great event to empower victims and make them feel stronger. We want to show them that we’re here for them, support them, and believe in them,” said Kristina Filomena, junior social work major. “The ‘It’s On Us’ event is different because this event promotes all individuals making a difference and showing people we can help as bystanders, whereas ‘Take Back the Night’ is helping the people who have already been victims.”
Elizabeth Grady, the Graduate Intern at the VPAS office, helped organize ‘It’s On Us.’ She decided she wanted it to be a fun opportunity for students to be active in learning how they can help when they see misconduct instead of just listening to a disconnected lecture about the topic. A few of the questions that went along with the games were: “If you see friends in a committed relationship and one grabs the other’s wrist, what do you do? If a couple has been dating for a long time and consented to sex in the past does that mean consent is always assumed?”
There were handouts all over the event tables that further delved into bystander intervention strategies. The best ways to intervene as a bystander is to follow any of the three D’s: Direct, Distract, or Delegate. Direct is the most straightforward approach that involves confronting the situation directly by speaking up: “Hey, is everything OK?” or “Stop that, leave him/her alone.”
The distraction method is exactly how it sounds: create a brief distraction to interrupt the course of events like asking the offender for the time, asking for directions, or pretending that you lost something.
The delegation method is pulling in other people who are more educated, qualified, or comfortable dealing with the issue, such as resident advisors, police officers or professors.
Catherine Christy, Director of VPAS, said that it is most important for students to intervene to the highest level of their own comfort and not to do anything that could jeopardize their own safety.
“This event is meant to teach students how to prevent violence and teach students how to stand up for others who can’t stand up for themselves,” said Christy.
Every year, each incoming freshmen is required to take a short online course called “Haven” before they start the academic year. Haven is meant to teach students about sexual consent and what the signs are when they suspect their friends are being abused. 81 percent of freshmen said last year that they would step in if they saw something, and 46 percent said they would not expect anyone to do it for them. Christy said that her goal is to show the 46 percent that 81 percent actually care.
“It’s up to everyone to work together to change the climate of sexual violence,” said Christy.
Photo Credit: Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer