From October 9th – 15th, It’s On Us is leading the Week of Action movement towards eradicating sexual assault on college campuses. It’s On Us is a dedicated organization that seeks to inform schools and students about what can be done to eliminate sexual assault at higher ed institutions.
This week is a perfect opportunity to spread awareness about the meaning of consent and teach students how important it is to be part of the solution against sexual violence. To take advantage of this opportunity at your school, consider trying one or more of the ideas from It’s On Us below.
1) Organize a pledge drive.
It’s On Us provides an online pledge that students can take to commit themselves to stopping sexual assault on campus. Consider setting up a pledge drive at a well-traversed spot on campus, and make sure you provide computers or tablets that students can use to take the pledge. Recruit the help of student leaders, like members of student government and fraternity/sorority members, to spread the word about the drive and get as many as their peers involved as possible.
2) Set up an open dialogue session.
Perhaps the most impactful way for students to understand the reality of sexual assault is to hear stories from their own peers who are survivors. Connect with your administration and ask them to help spread the word that you’re taking volunteers to share their stories in a panel discussion. It’s critical to emphasize to both volunteers and attendees that this event is a safe space; make it clear that the audience is to respect the privacy of the speakers once the event is over by not repeating any personal details that were discussed.
While some survivors may find it cathartic and empowering to speak at an event like this, it’s always a possibility that no one will feel comfortable sharing their very personal trauma with the student body. In the event that this happens, invite allies from the community to speak instead, like staff and volunteers from a local sexual assault resource center.
At the end of the presentations, allow for an open discussion by hosting a Q&A session or asking the audience if they have anything they would like to share.
3) Host a film screening.
Invite students to view a documentary like The Hunting Ground that discusses the issue of sexual assault on campus. Afterwards, you can opt to host a quick discussion and/or have a representative remind the audience of the various trauma resources available to them both on campus and in the community.
4) Incorporate awareness into a popular event.
Is there anything coming up on campus that many students are going to attend, like a football game or concert? If so, this is a perfect opportunity to incorporate awareness into an event where they’ll already be. Consider adding a quick PSA or speaker to the beginning of the event, handing out teal ribbons to represent sexual assault awareness, or handing out information pamphlets. You could even gather a group of students to collaborate and construct a unique art display for the event to grab attendees’ attention.
5) Get students involved on social media.
Social media is an incredible tool for spreading awareness, so use your school’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to get students involved in the week of action. You could ask students post photos of themselves and their printed out pledge, or you could encourage them to tweet about what consent means to them. At the end of the competition, you could select a random winner for a small prize.
Another idea is to organize students to participate in an online rally – pick a time for everyone to tweet with the hashtags #itsonus and #gotconsent. Encourage students to tweet at celebrities and other influencers who might take interest in the campaign and decide to get involved themselves.
It’s On Us has provided an entire toolkit to help schools organize events for the week of action – download it for more ideas, checklists and guides to aid in making this week as impactful for students as possible.