How One Group Of UMass Students Is Fighting Sexual Assault

It's On US To Make A Change

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are assaulted during their college careers. It is time for that to change.

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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.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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American Or Christian?

Can you really be both?

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This is a thought that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

Personally, I hate news and politics. It's depressing and it seems like both parties (and people in general) just don't get it. Political conversation gets on my ever-loving nerves and literally gets me down in the dumps for the day.

I just simply don't watch it anymore. There is too much negativity.

That doesn't mean that I am uniformed. I am not advocating for ignorance or anything like that. I prefer to read and figure out my information from sites "in the middle."

As I was eating dinner with my wife the other day we started talking about the new Abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia. As a Christ-follower and a staunch defender of Biblical inerrant, I detest abortion.

Before you read any farther, you must understand something: This article is not about my defense of my beliefs regarding hot topics like abortion or homosexuality. I do not have the time to write about said topics now. I am just asking you to accept what I believe for the sake of the article.

But, anyway, these abortion bills. I can make a pretty good case that they are Constitutional because they are protecting the Life (one of the Rights given to American Citizens) from others. Yes, I know the arguments against said point but continue with me please.

This led our conversation to talk about Homosexual marriage, something that I am against as well. And not just because of Leviticus but because of the New Testament as well.

But, shaking my head, I said something that my wife seemed to agree with:

"As a Christian, I know it's wrong and I cannot agree with it. As an American, I see no reason why it should be illegal. Unless your choices infringe someone's Rights, you should be free to do what you wish (technically speaking)."

This is my dilemma. Well, actually it's not a dilemma. I know that I am a Christian before I am an American. I love this country greatly, and I know how blessed I am to be born here. For all the hate this country gets (and some of it is deserved) and all the problems we have (and we have a lot), we are shoulders above other countries in many ways. I am so thankful for all the men and women who have served to protect me and keep me safe. I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I am proud to be an American.

But my identity in Christ comes first. This is why I do not get into politics much. I don't really care at the end of the day. Because while America has been blessed, we still have work to do here. And this is not my forever home. This is not where I will spend eternity.

I try and respect everyone's opinions, and I earnestly try to love everyone, even when they trash and disrespect my beliefs and convictions. But I must put my call to Christ about anything that has to do with this nation. I will pray for ALL our leaders because I was told to do so (I prayed for President Obama when he was in office). And I will be here to support this nation. But I cannot put it above Christ's commands.

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