‘It’s On Us’: Combating sexual assault

Temple and Penn State teamed up for a campaign to end sexual assault on campus.

“We have a problem,” two students said in unison in a video that aired at Beaver Stadium before the football game between Temple and Penn State on Sept. 17. They appeared side by side, one wearing cherry and white, the other wearing Penn State’s white and blue.

The problem, which Temple and Penn State seek to address together, touches every college campus.

“One in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted in college,” the video continued, “with even higher rates against people who are historically marginalized.”

The two universities collaborated to create a PSA as part of the “It’s On Us” initiative, which was introduced by President Barack Obama in 2014 and seeks to combat on-campus sexual assault. Temple has also held several pledge drives to support the “It’s On Us” initiatives at basketball, soccer and field hockey games. The pledge drives will be annual and Temple will produce a new PSA every year.

For Natalie Divers, a freshman global studies major, the most striking part of the video was the display of partnership off the field before the video aired at the football game.

“In that setting, the rivalry, it’s what’s on everyone’s mind,” Divers said. “It focuses on that rivalry and on the connections between the schools, and I think that’s pretty effective.”

The video highlighted the necessity for everyone to contribute to the resolution of this problem.

“[The video] also actually coincided with the second year anniversary of the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign launched by the White House,” said Katie Tenny, the coordinator of Penn State’s bystander intervention initiative, “Stand for State.”

“We can reach out to other universities and work with them to see what they’re doing to collaborate and provide more momentum,” Tenny said. “I think that’s important to again show we’re all in this together, we’re not okay with this, and we’re going to take a stand against it.”

Tenny and Penn State’s student government, the Undergraduate Association, reached out to the Wellness Resource Center, led by Interim Director Tom Johnson.

“This isn’t a one-campus issue and ideally if a Temple student was on another campus or a Penn State student was on another campus, they would understand that, ‘Hey, that skill set that I have or that initiative that I have to take action doesn’t stop just because I’m not on Temple’s campus any longer,’” Johnson said.

In addition to “It’s On Us,” the Wellness Resource Center sponsors and organizes the Clothesline Project and Clothesline Production to combat on-campus sexual assault.

The Clothesline Project, which will be held on Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Founder’s Garden, aims to support victims of sexual assault and other forms of violence by giving them a chance to express themselves. Individuals can hang a handmade T-shirt that represents their personal struggles with sexual assault or violence on a clothesline.

Clothesline Production, which will take place at the Student Center on Thursday at 8 p.m., is an evening of performances that focus on drawing attention to the issue of violence and sexual assault.

Jessica Gray, the coordinator of compliance and student-athlete affairs, said that these initiatives emphasize the importance of addressing and preventing sexual assault.

“It was really important to us as an athletic department to stay involved with it and keep our student athletes educated and understanding that this is an ongoing conversation and we all need to address how we handle it,” Gray said.

Marissa Howe can be reached at marissa.howe@temple.edu.

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