Anahzsa Jones | Managing Editor
On Oct. 14, student government held the It’s On Us Call to Action event in Stafford Commons. The event was part of It’s On Us week, from Oct. 10-14, a national initiative started in 2014 as a way to combat rape culture and sexual assault on college campuses. NC State University has joined forces with the White House and the National Campus Leadership Council to implement the campaign right here on NC State’s campus.
Soraya Russell, a junior studying international studies and student governments director of university affairs this year, hosted the event. In her introduction of the event, Russell said “It’s On Us is a cultural movement that aims to reframe the way we think about sexual assault. Our goal is to empower, educate, and engage students to be better bystanders and intervene in situations where they see consent is not or cannot be given.”
The Call to Action event this year featured speeches by several members of the campus community. There were artistic performances, including a music video of an original song by Jordan WIlliams, a junior studying communication with a concentration in media. The song, “You Can Sail Away” was written to express the healing and recovery process following sexual assault. Dancers from NC State’s Fusion and Just Cuz Crew appeared in the music video and joined Williams to perform live at the event. There was also a spoken word poem about consent called “Let’s Talk About Sex” written and performed by Matthew Wright, a junior studying graphic design.
Russell said, “Our goal was to reach students through artistic expression, as well as speeches. Some of the speakers spoke about personal experiences, while others spoke about resources available on campus. The performers provided a more emotional approach to sexual assault awareness.”
The Women’s Center also created a Public Service Announcement about the campaign, visible on their website, oied.ncsu.edu/Womens-Center, under “Programs and Events.” The video features NC State faculty, staff and students speaking on sexual assault and the misconceptions and culture surrounding it. One part of the video states, “Sexual assault does not happen because of alcohol consumption or because of how she was dressed. It’s on us.’”
Hundreds of NC State faculty, staff and students have signed the pledge, an integral part of the campaign, that outlines the goals of the initiative. The pledge, shown below, is available for electronic signature on ItsOnUs.org.
The Pledge: To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur. To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. To REPORT any incident of sexual assault. To EDUCATE ourselves and each other. To CREATE a campus in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
In her speech, Russell tells a powerful story about a close friend’s experience with sexual assault and the lessons these situations teach us.
“This is an ongoing conversation, and we still have a lot of work to do at NC State. Many students don’t report sexual assault because they fear that they won’t be believed, or that nothing will be done. We want to create an environment where survivors are supported and believed,” said Russell.
**The Nubian Message would like to encourage anyone experiencing sexual violence, regardless of gender, to seek help immediately.**
NCSU Sexual Violence Phone Line: 919-515-4444
Women’s Center: 919-515-2012. Talley Student Union 5210
GLBT Center: 919-513-9742. Talley Student Union 5230
NC State Police: 919-515-3000
NC State Counseling Center: 919-515-2423. 2815 Cates Avenue, Suite 2401
InterAct of Wake County 24 hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 866-291-0853