With sexual assault so prevalent on college campuses across the country, in 2014 President Obama began It’s On Us, an initiative to increase college communities’ awareness and prevention of sexual assault. This fall Brigette Marty, Associate Director of Student Center and Activities (SCA), and junior Mary Beth Becker have partnered to create an It’s On Us campaign at St. Kate’s. Last year, Becker approached Marty with the idea and the two applied for funding from St. Kate’s Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP) to support the project.
So far Marty and Becker have had a very positive experience working together, although they both find it challenging that they have to do this work at all. With mentoring and support from Marty, Becker is currently chartering It’s On Us as a student club at St. Kate’s and planning a schedule of events for spring semester, including Take Back the Night (an international event often involving rallies, vigils and marches against sexual violence) and piloting a training program for bystander intervention.
Becker feels this work is preparing her for her career as she hopes to work with sexual violence survivors. Becker recently learned that the deaf community experiences sexual violence at higher rates than those who are hearing. As an ASL major and someone who identifies as a sexual violence survivor, she is extremely passionate about this justice issue. When asked about her experience participating in AMP this semester, Becker said, “[I] appreciate having the opportunity to work one-on-one with a mentor. This is my first AMP experience … so this has been really exciting for me.” Becker was not always involved on campus to the extent she currently is, but decided she wanted to be more immersed in the St. Kate’s community. Through AMP she has realized she is capable of doing this kind of work and learned that she really enjoys it.
“You’re going to get out of [AMP] what you put into it, both as the professional staff member and…the student mentee. We both commit…We’re going to make this happen,” Marty said of this program. She encourages all St. Kate’s students, staff and faculty to look into AMP as a way to support their research, teaching and project initiatives. Marty’s experience with AMP and the focus of this project has reinforced her interest in this work; she shared that she is both struck and saddened by the reality that sexual violence is such a prominent issue on college campuses.
There is no doubt that St. Kate’s will benefit from Becker and Marty’s efforts. This is an exciting initiative that will help raise awareness about preventing sexual assault in our own community and contribute to the larger national movement to address this issue. Hopefully one day soon organizations such as this one will not need to exist because sexual assault will no longer be a problem. As the the name of the initiative reminds us, and Becker and Marty are modeling, It’s on Us to put an end to sexual violence in our campus communities.
For more information about the National It’s On Us campaign, visit: http://itsonus.org/
For more information about AMP, visit: stkate.edu/cwl/amp
By Kourtney Johnson ’17