Mobilizing campus to take action

Mobilizing campus to take action

By Genesis Cosme

Mobilizing campus to take action

By Genesis Cosme
The third annual It’s On Us Fall Week of Action begins November 10 and empowers members of the University community to prevent sexual assault and be responsive bystanders

‘It’s on us.’ These three words embody not just an organization, but also a movement dedicated to making college campuses across America safer for all. The national It’s On Us campaign was founded in 2014 by former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and the University of Miami’s own chapter is composed of 25 student ambassadors from all corners of campus who advocate for their peers.

These students work closely with the University’s Title IX Office as well as the Dean of Students Office to foster a campus environment where everyone can feel confident in speaking out before sexual assault happens. They lead the campus conversation on sexual assault by teaching others to hold friends, roommates, classmates, and teammates accountable for preventing assault, understanding consent, and supporting survivors.

The third annual It’s On Us Fall Week of Action begins on November 10 and features a variety of programs including late-night dining, engaging activities inside the Residential Colleges, and a study break – all aimed at bringing education right to students and to make access to support as widely available as possible.

Renu Nargund, a senior public health and psychology major, is the University’s It's On Us co-programming chair and a regional advisor to the nation-wide effort.

"We spend a lot of time gauging what issues students want us to focus on,” she said. “And through our third annual campus climate survey, we found that bystander intervention is still a hurdle we need to cross."

Nargund also adds how the phenomenon known as “herd mentality” reinforces people to follow the behaviors of their peers, so as not to disrupt the norm.  "But when this happens, Nargund said, “It can be negative because if you don't help someone else, dangerous things can happen."

By partnering with other organizations on campus like the School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic (HRC), It’s On Us strives to broaden its outreach on campus. On November 13, the HRC is bringing awareness to a new Florida law that affects undocumented immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

“Students will have the opportunity to learn more about an issue that is personal to many students and make a direct change by writing a letter to their representative,” says Amanda Suarez, a second-year law student and legal student intern with HRC. “It is important that all students are aware of the laws being passed in our community and have the opportunity to make a difference, and the Clinic hopes to provide that opportunity.”

Above all, It’s On Us encourages students not to be afraid to reach out, ask for help, and protect their mental health, whether they are directly involved in sexual violence or just providing support for a peer.

“It can be taxing on the individual, so we want to teach students how to take care of themselves,” Nargund says. “Even if the person you’re supporting decides not to report, know that you are going through this experience with them and learning about how these issues affect more than one person. You can also find the support you need by talking to someone.”

Fall 2019 Week of Action Schedule of Events

  • Sunday, November 10: Booty Call at the Dining Hall
    Hecht Stanford Dining Hall from 10 p.m. to midnight
  • Monday, November 11: All Love Needs Consent
    Foote Green from 11 .m. to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 12: Storm the Dorms
    Mahoney/Pearson Residential College from 5 – 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 13: Women's Crush Wednesday
    Green Canopy Outside of the University Center from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 14: ’Canes do it (With Consent)
    The UC Rock from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Friday, November 15: It's On Us Study Break
    Outside of Richter Library & Second Floor of the Shalala Student Center from 10 a.m. to noon

For more information and resources on sexual misconduct, connect with It’s On Us on social media at @ItsOnUsUMiami or visit the University’s Title IX website at titleix.miami.edu.