MIT will hold a kickoff next week for the “It’s On Us” campaign, a national initiative to promote sexual assault awareness on college campuses.
In September, the White House contacted representatives from the Undergraduate Association (UA) and the Graduate Student Council (GSC), inviting MIT to become one of the national campaign’s campus partners. The invitation was then approved by MIT’s Title IX Investigator, Sarah Rankin, and the Title IX Working Group, a committee made up of student representatives of various organizations, including the UA, the GSC, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the MIT Panhellenic Association (Panhel), Dormcon, Stop Our Silence, Queer West, and many others.
The Title IX Working Group will be promoting the campaign in Lobby 10 next week. Free “swag” will be distributed to students, including t-shirts, stickers, and water bottles. A photo booth will also be available, with the idea that the pictures will then be spread on social media sites to publicize the campaign.
To demonstrate their personal commitment to preventing sexual assault on campus, students will be able to accept MIT’s It’s On Us pledge by signing a large wooden rendering of the word “us,” which will be displayed as an art installation on campus to continue to create awareness about sexual assault at MIT. The installation’s location has yet to be determined by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 and the Title IX Working Group.
The Title IX Working Group has recently finished a website detailing the It’s On Us mission and pledge, as well as providing a list of student resources that directly address sexual assault at MIT. During kickoff week, the group will launch a video with the campaign, according to Jacqueline “Chacha” Durazo ’14, who also co-created “project dx/dt,” a film produced by MIT students to share the story of individuals who have been affected by sexual assault at MIT.
“We wanted our campaign to be more unique, more MIT,” said Durazo in an interview with The Tech. The original pledge provided by the U.S. government was customized to reference MIT’s campus culture and incorporates MIT’s motto, “Mens et Manus.”
According to Rankin, the video will feature students primarily from the Title IX Working Group discussing the importance of the It’s On Us initiative at MIT. The video will also encourage living groups to make their own videos showcasing the issues introduced by the campaign from their own perspectives. Any other videos made will be featured on a Youtube channel documenting the It’s On Us initiative at MIT.
It’s On Us at MIT will begin its kickoff week with a community forum next Wednesday, Nov. 12, led by Rankin and Kate McCarthy, Senior Program Manager for Sexual Health and an advocate for the Violence Prevention and Response program (VPR). According to UA President Shruti Sharma ’15, “The chairs of our Committee on Student Support and Wellness, Chrysonthia A. Horne ’15 and Morgan K. Moroi ’16, will join Barnhart on the panel on Wednesday that will follow the opening ceremony that we will all join.”
Sexual Assault at MIT
Since 2013, the MIT administration has taken several steps aimed at addressing sexual assault on campus. Last year, MIT appointed Rankin as the Title IX Investigator and clarified its sexual misconduct policy to define, among other things, “effective consent” as “informed, freely and actively given, mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.”
MIT student groups have also taken on a large role in combating sexual assault. Representatives from multiple student groups organized the Title IX Working Group and held its first meeting in February, according to a statement from the group.
Last week, President L. Rafael Reif and Barnhart released the results of the Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault (CASA) survey sent to all graduate and undergraduate students in April. About 35 percent of students responded to the survey.
The survey results reported that 17 percent of female undergraduates who responded said they had experienced behavior defined as sexual assault at MIT. The campaign task force hopes that it will keep the MIT community mindful of the issue of sexual violence and also reassure students that there are many resources available to address this issue.
“While the It’s On Us campaign encourages individuals to do what they can to address sexual assault at MIT today, steps are being taken to develop long-term solutions to end sexual violence on campus in the near future,” said Horne, the co-chair of the Committee on Student Support and Wellness in an interview with The Tech. According to Horne, these long-term solutions will be developed primarily by the Sexual Assault Education & Prevention Task Force, which is currently analyzing the results of Chancellor Barnhart’s CASA survey.
The campaign aims to bring about an attitude shift among those who do not acknowledge that there is a problem of sexual assault on campus, added Durazo.
“The It’s On Us MIT campaign is about mobilizing the entire community to step up and do our part to solve the problem of sexual violence. Symbolically, it’s a reminder that it takes the entire community rising up in collective action to address the complicated endemic of sexual assault,” Rankin wrote in an email to The Tech.
MIT students and affiliates can learn more about the MIT It’s On Us campaign through its website, http://itsonus.mit.edu. Those who have any questions about the campaign or want to know how to get involved can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.