It’s On Us, a national campaign to encourage students to help combat sexual violence, has been hosting a pledge drive at the Student Resources Building Lawn since Monday and will hold a rally in Stoke Plaza tomorrow at noon.
Hosted by the Women, Gender and Sexual Equity Department along with Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.), It’s On Us campaigners have been giving out information regarding sexual violence and have been asking students to take a pledge to help prevent sexual assault since Monday and until today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. At tomorrow’s rally in Storke Plaza, speakers will emphasize the vital role students play in addressing and combatting sexual assault.
CARE staff member and third-year sociology and College of Creative Studies literature major Emily Potter, who helped organize the event, said it is important that students participate in the campaign in light of recent incidences of sexual violence that have occurred to students on campus and in Isla Vista.
“Sexual assault is a huge problem on our campus. I think there’s statistics to say it’s even, percentage wise, worse on our campus than on other campuses,” Potter said. “We see 70 to 80 people come a year at C.A.R.E. to get support, and that’s just the people that come forward.”
According to Potter, the It’s On Us campaign aims to increase support for survivors of sexual violence and create an environment where sexual assault is never acceptable.
“A lot of people just don’t realize how much we as a society and as a culture perpetuate this problem,” Potter said. “To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported, I think that’s ultimately what this campaign is doing. It starts sending a message out, especially to survivors, that we are supporting you, and I think all the other stuff will naturally follow that.”
Fourth-year political science major and C.A.R.E. staff member Hannah Brown said a shift in societal perspective regarding sexual violence is needed throughout campus and in I.V.
“There’s so much stigma on being a survivor, and almost no stigma on being an accused perpetrator,” Brown said, “We need to kind of shift that and say, ‘No. It’s not a bad thing to be a survivor. It’s a horrible thing to be a perpetrator.’”
According to Brown, the campaign aims to be inclusive in order to incite widespread change regarding campus perspective on sexual violence.
“We are trying really hard to make it a community building thing,” Brown said. “It’s about faculty and staff and students and Isla Vista and the community. While we are focusing on UCSB, we want it to be a community-building thing. We’re not going to get any major changes if we don’t have everybody working together.”
Third-year biology major Emma Burley, one of many students who have signed the pledge, said she is pleased that males are also participating in the campaign.
“Living in a college community with a very party-heavy culture makes us more vulnerable for stuff like this,” Burley said. “I’m really glad to see that there are guys signing this pledge, too, especially since women tend to be more vocal about sexual assault, but it’s not just an issue for women. Men need to be involved in the conversation too.”
A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, November 20, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.