‘It’s on us’ aims to stop sexual assault

With a heavy sigh, her weary gaze looked up from the floor and began to tell her story. It was last year when she came home from a party and split off from her group of friends to meet up with a guy she had talked to earlier.

The words didn’t come easily and she explained that they probably never would – having already explained the situation various times. “The incident” happened last year, and it’s not unique. 

It’s estimated that one in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses.  Statistics show that only one in 12 sexual assaults are reported.

The idea isn’t to assign blame or push the taboo, instead recognizing an opportunity to take responsibility. A campaign by The White House and President Barack Obama deemed “It’s on us” was put into play to create awareness and prevent sexual assault on the campuses of colleges and universities. 

The campaign was launched on Sept. 19 and consists of a taskforce put together earlier this year. The eventual goal is to entirely prevent sexual assault on college campuses. Obama recognizes that sexual assault doesn’t just apply to women.

He assembled a taskforce in January of this year to initially address the problem.  Promoting student, faculty and law enforcement leadership in confronting the issue of sexual harassment. The taskforce reinforces the idea that non-consensual sex is assault and promotes the identification of the crime as well as support for survivors. 

At Sonoma State University, statistics show that since 2010, there have been two sexual assault cases per year. Both the Student Health Center and Police Services remind students that in the incident of assault to get to a safe place and to not change one’s clothing.

Report to police services immediately. The longer one waits, the more difficult it is to catch and prosecute the assailant. Support and counseling through the school is offered.

The university’s official statement is as follows: Sonoma State University will not tolerate sexual assault in any form, including acquaintance rape. Where there is probable cause to believe that a student, faculty, or staff member has violated the university’s regulations prohibiting sexual assault, and with the consent of the victim, the university will actively pursue disciplinary action through its own channels as well as appropriate legal channels. Even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the university can pursue disciplinary action. 

President Ruben Armiñana told the STAR last week that the issue of sexual assault is serious.

“Let’s be honest about it, the amount of violence – sexual violence that exists on this campus is almost zero,” said Armiñana. “Most violence on this campus and many other campuses are acquaintance issues, the amount of this is a serious problem on this campus and other campuses.  It should not be tolerated.”

He also addressed the repetitive nature of the crime and the importance of reporting it when found, as well as the services that are currently in place to help students.

“Firstly, you must acknowledge the problem. Secondly, you have to address the problem that sexual harassment is attached to drug and alcohol abuse – third, it is important for everyone to take responsibility,” said Armiñana. “If you see someone getting into a difficult situation willingly and or unwillingly, speak up. Lastly the victim should report the assault truthfully and as swiftly as possible.”