‘It’s On Us’ shows how to prevent sexual assault
By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau
For senior RJ Callaway, Grand Canyon University’s campaign to end sexual violence requires more than just signing a pledge card.
The “It’s On Us” campaign calls on students like him to commit to taking the steps necessary to prevent sexual assault both on and off campus.
“It’s more than just an awareness campaign. It gives very specific advice on what to do, and I like that. I don’t want to be a bystander but rather someone who prevents sexual assaults,” said the senior secondary education major from Globe.
Callaway joined hundreds of GCU students stopping this week to sign the “It’s On Us” pledge at tables hosted by Associated Students of GCU (ASGCU), campus sponsor of the weeklong event.
GCU’s “It’s On Us,” part of a national campaign against sexual violence, runs through Friday.
It asks students, faculty and staff to sign a commitment to step off the sidelines and work to end sexual assault.
The campaign advice is straight to the point:
- If you walk into a party, club or dorm and see a situation that could end in sexual assault, say something.
- Create a distraction.
- Be direct – ask if someone is OK or needs help.
- Keep an eye out for those who have had too much to drink. Tell their friends. (Alcohol is not allowed on the GCU campus.)
- If someone is deliberately trying to intoxicate another person, isolate or corner the offender.
- Trust your gut – if it looks like a bad situation, it probably is.
As students stopped to sign the pledge, volunteers handed out brochures with valuable safety tips:
Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid isolated areas. Be sure to carry a cell phone. Friends keep friends safe. Never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers.
“We give them valuable information and try to discuss the campaign. It’s an important safety issue for all students,” said Ashley Patterson, a Canyon Activities Board (CAB) and campaign volunteer.
Many students who signed the pledge said they’ve never experienced sexual assault or witnessed a potential assault. But sophomore Juliana Marquez said she knows dangers exist.
“I have no personal experience but stand by the cause. I know it’s a serious issue and wanted to give my support,” she said.
Freshman Kaitlyn Nicol did the same: “It’s not something I’ve ever faced, but it’s a serious problem that everyone needs to know about.”
The “It’s On Us” campaign reports that, nationally, one in five female students will be sexually assaulted while in college. Experts also estimate that 95 percent of sexual assaults on campus go unreported.
In addition to the pledge table, ASGCU is holding bystander clinics to train students to know when and how to intervene.
Training revolves around GCU’s bystander code: “As a friend you should be watching out for your other friends. … Alcohol and substances are never an excuse for sexual assault.”
To encourage intervention, GCU offers amnesty. According to Title IX policy, “Students who provide information about sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking involving students will not be disciplined by the university for any violation of the university’s drug and alcohol possession or consumption policies in which they might have been in connection with the reported incident.”
The remainder of the week’s events are as follows:
Wednesday: Pledge drive table from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Promenade, south of the Student Union. Bystander seminar from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. at Howerton Hall. Movie night at 7 p.m. on the Quad.
Thursday: Bystander seminar from 12:30-2:15 p.m. in Building 57, Room 324. “Diversity Speaks” at 6 p.m. in Building 22, Room 104. Self-defense class at 6 p.m. at Prescott Field.
Friday: The week ends with a rally from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Promenade, south of the Student Union.
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.