The Ole Miss Associated Student Body and Rebels Against Sexual Assault joined forces this week to sponsor events built to educate the campus during It’s On Us Week.
As a part of the national week designed to end sexual assault on college campuses, RASA and ASB brought in a visiting speaker, hosted a panel discussion and sponsored a 3K run. They will hold a Sexual Assault Awareness rally and debut UM’s Clothespin Project today.
2016’s It’s On Us Week kicked off on Halloween at 11 a.m. in front of the Union with a student Pledge Drive.
RASA and ASB encouraged students to sign the national It’s On Us organization’s pledge to “Help keep women and men safe from sexual assault” and to “Not be a bystander to the problem, but to be part of the solution.” Freshman psychology major Sarah Cooley was one of many to sign her name.
“I think the pledge is a great reminder of what we need to be doing on campus,” Cooley said.
Chardonnay Madkins, project manager with End Rape on Campus, kept the week’s programs rolling with her Tuesday night presentation in Bishop Hall. Madkins emphasized EROC’s mission to end campus sexual assault violence through direct support for survivors, educational prevention and policy reform.
She said students who are marginalized by race or sexual orientation are often left out of sexual assault conversations on campuses.
“We have to very much be aware of what environment we’re in and how it treats marginalized people,” Madkins said. “First thing we have to do is learn the facts of rape and rape culture.”
Next semester, Madkins will set out on a yearlong tour of college campus to promote EROC’s message across the country. Ole Miss was the first stop on her mission to re-center America’s marginalized students, which she said would help all students.
Wednesday night, It’s On Us Week 2016 pushed on with a screening of Kirby Dick’s 2015 documentary, “The Hunting Ground.” The film challenged American college administrators to do more to combat campus sexual assault. After the film, ASB and RASA led a panel discussion between students and university officials.
Jeremy Cook of University Police, assistant director for Violence Prevention Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, student Elizabeth Romary and Title IX Coordinator Honey Ussery sat on the panel.
“We’ve gotten lots of community support,” Ussery said. “The new chancellor has been extremely supportive of Title IX and RASA.”
Ussery said this week her department is launching an online training program for all faculty and staff. This sexual assault prevention and response training is mandatory for all staff members to complete before Dec. 21.
Continuing their week of violence prevention, ASB and RASA sponsored a 3K Glow Race to spread awareness of campus sexual violence on Thursday. ASB called the free race a “fun run”, as it was open to anyone older than 14 and was not timed.
ASB and RASA will wrap up 2016’s It’s On Us Week with a duo of public events on Friday.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the organizations will hang decorated t-shirts from clotheslines in the Union Plaza. This demonstration is a part of the national Clothespin Project, which supports assault survivors by allowing them to anonymously share their struggle through artful t-shirts.
Friday at noon, RASA and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender studies will gather students for a rally in the Lyceum Circle.
At the end of this 2016 It’s On Us Week, ASB polled the university via Twitter about the week’s effects. According to their Twitter poll of 80 students, 43 percent of Ole Miss students are well aware of the university-provided resources available to victims of sexual assault, compared to the 25 percent who say they are not.
Madkins said ASB and RASA’s It’s On Us Week programs impressed her.
“I can see the students’ activism and their passion for doing what’s needed and knowing it’s right.”