Campus encourages intervention with new sexual assault prevention campaign

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Ariel Hayat/Senior Staff

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UC Berkeley officials and students are working collaboratively to promote bystander intervention and sexual assault awareness with the launch of the new “It’s On Us” campaign Wednesday.

The campaign focuses on the role individuals can play in sexual assault prevention and the overall campus climate, highlighting the importance of bystander intervention in potentially harmful situations. UC Berkeley’s campaign is adapted from the national “It’s On Us” campaign launched in September.

“This ties to a nationwide movement with the goal of having a unified movement,” said ASUC Student Advocate Rishi Ahuja. “All campuses are dealing with issues of sexual assault, working on how to adjudicate and address these issues.”

The campaign launched Wednesday with an event at the Tang Center, where individuals featured on the campaign posters spoke and attendees were encouraged to make pledges about their role in sexual assault prevention.

This campaign effort was spearheaded by Finn Schneider, director of Bears That Care and program manager of Berkeley Cares in the office of the dean of students, and Alicia Harris, a health educator with the Tang Center and facilitator of EmpowerU. They, along with student advisers, worked to adapt the national campaign to suit UC Berkeley’s campus.

“A multipronged approach is best,” Harris said. “This campaign alone will not decide whether or not sexual assault happens on this campus or to what extent it does, but it can work in collaboration with other campaigns to move in the right direction.”

Schneider and Harris worked with the Violence Prevention Collaborative, which consists of students and staff from campus communities such as University Health Services, the Division of Student Affairs and the ASUC. The project was collaboratively created and funded, according to Schneider.

“I think we have a lot of great people, including faculty, who up until this point haven’t really been involved with supporting students on anti-sexual assault work,” said UC Berkeley junior Meghan Warner, director of the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission.

The campaign effort primarily includes posters around campus that show individuals taking personal pledges to prevent sexual assault and to support survivors on campus. The posters themselves were created by UC Berkeley students to ensure their visions were realized.

“The campaign itself is focused on changing the whole campus climate,” said senior Jack Sloman, who worked as a graphic designer on the campaign. “As a student, I really wanted student representation and for students’ opinions to be heard. The students know what they want.”

Schneider said this initiative is unique in that students chose what form it would take.

“We wanted to hear from real people who are involved and have real influence,” Schneider said. “These are conversation starters. This will not solve the problem, but it will get people talking.”

Staff writer Chloee Weiner contributed to this report.

Michelle Pitcher is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.