For those of you who watched the Oscars this year, you may remember Vice President Joe Biden’s introduction to Lady Gaga’s performance “Til It Happens To You.” In it he, mentions a new campaign about preventing sexual assault, It’s On Us. This event is one that has been happening for decades around the world and since the 1970s in the United States. The major focus of the event is on eliminating sexual and domestic violence in all forms.
What many of you may not know is that there are a group of student leaders here on campus that have been working on contributing to this campaign. Last October, the St. Kate’s Violence Protection Collective was approached by Sarah Eisenhower from the Athletic Department about starting this initiative on campus. The group of student leaders as well as various faculty members have been meeting since the beginning of February. Members of the Collective, such as Samuel Kelly from Campus Ministry, Elizabeth Steffen from Residence Life, Brigette Marty from Student Center for Activities and Sarah Hoyt from the Health and Wellness Clinic, recruited many of the student leaders on the board. Despite this the group is student generated, with the advisors providing advice as well as budgeting for the students.
When students were asked to participate in the campaign, a few of them said it was important to them that awareness should be brought to light here at the school.
“It is especially powerful that it’s at a women’s campus. Even though many students feel safe here, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings.” said Nora Vonnegut.
Another student, Lizzie Cleary ’17, could be seen as one of the most passionate for participating in the campaign.
“I liked it because I am on the social justice committee of Seek Team, and I had participated in something similar with the ACTC schools, and am excited to bring it back to St. Kate’s.” Cleary said.
Cleary also shared that before spring break she had an art collective focused on sexual and domestic violence.
When the students started meeting in February, at first it was just focused on figuring out what the group stood for in terms of how it wanted to effect the lives of students on campus. Both students and advisors alike received key information on how to prevent sexual assault, commonly known as ‘bystander training,’ but now they focus more on the upcoming events that they plan to host from now until the end of the semester. In particular, student members have been assigned to one of three groups, tasked with working on either publicity, planning the Take Back the Night event, or planning the Bystander training event.
As of recent, students in the campaign have been preparing for a long week of events the week of April 18. Starting on Tuesday and continuing on Thursday student leaders will be tabling in various places in the Couer de Catherine promoting Take Back the Night as well as having an interactive activity for students. The activity will take place on April 22 and will allow students to pledge themselves to the campaign and put their fingerprint onto one of three canvases, which will be able to be seen by all starting Sunday in the Pulse.
The group of students in charge of planning for the Take Back the Night event on April 22 have also been hard at work. One of the things they have been doing is lining up some awesome entertainment, a guest speaker, and a yoga class for before and after the march around campus. Rochelle Vincent ’16, one of the student planners, is excited to have been given the opportunity to plan this event
“I saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to educate women.” Vincent said.
Another event that the campaign is developing is Bystander Training, which brings awareness to the measures you can take if you witness sexual or domestic assault in any way, shape, or form. The students are currently developing skits for these events and if you have an idea email Brigette, Sam, or any of the other advisors. This event is being planned for the fall semester.
If you would like to join the St. Kate’s Violence Protection Collective, talk to any of the advisors previously listed. They will be able to add you to the email list. For more information on the campaign, check out itsonus.org for videos and a more detailed history.