Expanded ‘It’s On Us’ to help sex-trafficking victims
By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
Leaders on college campuses, including Grand Canyon University, have strived to increase awareness of sexual assault on college campuses since 2014, when the White House originated the “It’s on Us’’ campaign. The weeklong campaign, which begins Monday, is designed for all students to take steps, big and small, to create a community of active bystanders in prevention of sexual assault.
“It is about empowering students,’’ said President Noah Wolfe of the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University (ASGCU). “That’s why we exist. Our No. 1 job is to listen to students and then provide students with opportunities. So we wanted to ask ourselves, ‘Can we take “It’s on Us’’ week to the next level? Can we empower students in any way to make a difference while we’re still advocating for the detrimental effect of sexual assault on college campuses?’’’
Wolfe and the other ASGCU officers — Vice President Stephen Steininger, Chief of Staff Aly Halbakken and Administrative Vice President Tim McGill — worked together, expanding beyond awareness messages to respond to the issue.
They are collaborating with StreetLightUSA, a Peoria-based organization founded in 2008 to provide crisis intervention, stabilization and housing for young girls at risk for and victims of child sex trafficking. The organization’s latest plan is to build a school for victims of child sex trafficking, and ASGCU wants to provide a funding boost for the school with a campaign: If GCU students raise $10,000, the University will match that amount.
GCU has a pre-established relationship with StreetLightUSA — GCU’s Local Outreach organization sends teams of students to Peoria weekly to tutor girls and young women who are victims of sex trafficking.
The ASGCU leaders contacted GCU student Maddie Locke, a Local Outreach leader, to discuss GCU’s volunteerism at StreetLightUSA. Locke encouraged her fellow student leaders to partner with the organization, which seeks to provide victims of child sex trafficking a safe environment to learn.
With the help of GCU engineering students, a programmable button, featuring lights and sounds, was created. The button hooks up to a computer that is programmed by students to correspond to the number of customers the Student Union GCBC location serves each day.
“The premise of the campaign is that we have created this super cool product we’re going to call the Stampede button,’’ Wolfe said. ”When the Stampede button goes off it means a free GCBC drink. But the only way that we’re going to plug it in is if we raise $10,000 to StreetLightUSA to start a school. We have linked with Venmo and Cash App for students to donate directly.’’
ASGCU has partnered with GCBC to give out numerous free drinks every day for the rest of the semester, so that once the $10,000 goal is reached, customers at the Student Union GCBC will have 20 chances a day to win a free drink card for the rest of the semester.
“We’re really excited to see the response among students,” Wolfe said. “We have a culture here of seeing a need and wanting to fill it. We’ve got a lot of people on board: the Lope Shop, CAB (Canyon Activities Board), Life Leaders, Dance, Cheer, Thunder, Havocs and (Thundering Heard) pep band. We are so excited from a hype perspective.’’
The campaign will be publicized in numerous ways, via flyers, posters, a video during Chapel on Monday and another video during The Gathering on Tuesday.
“We gathered five of the main resources GCU has and we put them on posters and flyers,’’ Halbakken said. The resources are listed as follows:
- Blue lights are available all over campus for you to push whenever you feel threatened.
- If you are concerned for your safety, an on-duty public safety officer will escort you to your vehicle.
- The Title IX office is located in Building 23. Find resources, information or file a report there.
- The Student Care office, located on the second floor the Student Life Building, is full of professionals who are always willing to meet with you and talk through difficult situations.
- If you ever need to contact Public Safety quickly, use the GCU Engage app to link the number directly to your phone.
While the first video will explain the need for a school at StreetLight USA and the ways GCU students can donate, the second video, featuring Wolfe and a few other students, will highlight scenes from StreetLightUSA.
“That will give students and up-close-and-personal view of what we’re trying to do,’’ Wolfe said. “This is going to show where the girls are going to go to school. We’re excited to make the video, and we feel it will give a personal connection to the StreetLightUSA campus.’’
Both videos will be shown on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for those who cannot attend Chapel or The Gathering.
A visible reminder of “It’s on Us’’ will be evident each day, beginning Monday, by the tables set up on the Promenade, manned by students distributing information.
On Wednesday night, a Title IX training session is scheduled; its focus is preventing sexual assault on campus.
Wolfe, Halbakken, Steininger and McGill also worked on a marketing campaign with the Lope Shop. Students can enter to win a drawing for a hydro flask by designing a social media graphic in support of sexual assault awareness, while encouraging fellow students to take part in the fundraising project for StreetLightUSA.
“As the week goes on it will be interesting to see the response of students,’’ McGill said. “It will be really beneficial that this campus is a perfect place for the call to action to be answered. We do a lot of work in the community, and this is a physical way that we can really leave our mark and be helpful to those who are less fortunate than us. All of us are really excited to see the students respond in a positive manner.’’
Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or [email protected].
GCU Today: Students speak out against sexual assault