Events raise awareness about sexual assault
By Carleigh Turner, Web Designer
This week, as part of a nation-wide initiative to put an end to sexual assault, Miami University is participating in It's On Us Week.
This is the second time Miami has hosted a week dedicated to the It's On Us campaign, an initiative that aims to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. Nationally, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched the It's On Us campaign Sept. 19, 2014.
Sexual assault has become a cause of national concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, one in five women are sexually assaulted and the crime costs the United States $127 billion annually, more than any other than any other.
The week began with a screening of the It's On Us promo video featuring current campus leaders showing their support for the campaign at the football and hockey games on Friday and Saturday.
Monday through Friday, students and passersby will have the ability to take the It's On Us pledge and sign a banner to commit themselves to keeping women and men safe from sexual assault. They will also be able to pick up fliers with resources and statistics so visitors will know they are not alone and see where they could get help. As of press time, Miami's It's On Us organization has received over 150 signatures.
"It's really encouraging to see students respond so well to this and it makes me glad that I've spent so much time and effort on it," said Maddie Lazarski, chair of Miami's It's On Us group. "I'm really proud of my fellow students for taking their time and showing their support and acknowledging that this is a problem that we can solve."
At 7:30 p.m. today in McGuffey Hall, It's On Us will host a viewing of the movie "Every Two Minutes," a film from Michigan State that focuses on what happens to an individual when they report they have been sexually assaulted on a college campus.
After the video, students and others in attendance can participate in a panel with members of the Miami and Oxford community that handle sexual assault reports. The panel will include representatives from Miami's Title IX office, MUPD, Diversity Affairs, the student organization Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault, Residence Life, Counseling Services, Women Helping Women and the Butler County Sexual Assault Nurse Forensics Team.
Nadia Dawisha, a graduate student and sexual assault advocate at Miami, organized the event and anticipates attendees will leave the panel with a better understanding of how reporting sexual assault works at Miami. The event will also allow the panelists to discuss how their offices collaborate and brainstorm how they may collaborate more efficiently.
"I hope that people in the audience understand what their options are and they understand that there are people there who are supportive and can answer their questions on how to better support survivors," Dawisha said.
Wednesday, It's On Us will be providing Step Up! Bystander Training at 7:30 p.m in Farmer School of Business, which aims to promote awareness while also educating attendees on how to help someone if they disclose a sexual assault to them.
"I think a lot of times people don't entirely understand that sexual assault is a problem that can happen here and anywhere," Lazarski said. "If we acknowledge that this is something that can happen to all of us, it becomes something that we can deal with."
Thursday, there will be another screening of "The Hunting Ground" in Farmer School of Business at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, It's On Us will be hosting its first "It's On Us Art Show" in Armstrong Student Center at 12:00 p.m.
"What I really like is the option of multiple events available [during It's On Us Week]" Becca Getson said, Miami's Title IX Coordinator. "Every [event] that we have has options for multiple people."
Getson hopes the week will help students understand that it is on them to end sexual assault and they all have the ability and responsibility to act in sexual assault prevention and awareness in whatever way that each individual can.
"We need to come together as a society to tackle this," said Dawisha. "We are losing so much human potential a year and as a society we really need to get it together."