During the last week of October, I had the privilege of participating in the It's on US Week of Action at UMass Amherst. As a co-ambassador for my university, I firmly believe that not only is it important to be educated on the implications sexual assault and rape have on society but to be an active bystander in these situations. That embodies the main objective of It's on US: to actively take a stand against an issue that does not deserve a place in this world.
Throughout this week, I participated in a pledge drive around campus, and I also spoke at and helped coordinate the 'big event' my chapter held to raise awareness. At this event, we had student speakers, live panels, and leaders of the UMass community speak about what the coalition means to them.
Several organizations were in attendance, including Greek life chapters, the Center for Women and Community, and the UMass student Democrats. We had an amazing turnout, and I could not be more proud of every participant who spoke out against sexual assault and encouraged others to do the same.
It's on US has existed for a few years now, and its impact on college students and millennials has been amazing. Founded by former Vice President Joe Biden, It's On US is a national organization intended for eliminating sexual assault and rape, particularly on college campuses. Biden's devotion to this cause is quite admirable, as he aims to engage people in both politics and humanity regarding this issue. Although sexual assault should never be a political issue, it has become one due to recent events. And because of that, it is
Most people were very excited and willing to take the pledge, which is what we showed people during tabling hours. The pledge itself is very meaningful to the organization as a whole
The It's On US pledge is as follows:
To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
Many students were pleased with the work we've been doing to assert that sexual assault is not, and never will be, OK. However, the stigma is still very prevalent. For every handful of people who avidly support our cause, there is one who either does not care or misinterprets the problem at hand. I commend every student organization that works toward the ultimate goal of a safe environment for all.
At UMass in particular, we have been supported in several ways. For example, some of the fraternity houses around campus hung up banners to be in solidarity with survivors, while also verbally rejecting rape culture. However, we cannot stop here. We must make legitimate strides in combatting sexual assault through speaking up when we see something wrong. We must protect those who are brave enough to speak out and tell their story. We must respect one another at all times.