It’s on us: Task force against sexual assault starts campaign

By Ellen Rossow

rossowel@mnstate.edu

“There is one thing you cannot have sex without.”

Posters with these words tacked on bulletin boards and stuck on walls mark the beginning of campus’ latest effort in the fight against sexual assault — It’s On Us MSUM.

The campaign has been brought to life by MSUM’s Task Force for Sexual Violence Prevention. The campaign, modeled after It’s On Us campaigns nationwide, encourages the MSUM community to get educated.

President Anne Blackhurst released an introduction video Nov. 9 as a call to action for all people of MSUM.

“It’s On Us MSUM … encourages change through collective dialogue and shared commitment,” Blackhurst said in the video. “I am asking you to get educated and get involved.”

Last week’s opportunities for just that included wellness educators tabling in Flora Frick and handing out awareness bracelets in Kise. The hashtag #ItsOnUSMSUM was integrated into social media platforms, and students who tweeted the hashtag received T-shirts. Campaign posters now line the walls of campus and a silent video features a handful of Dragons, including Blackhurst, on electronic media boards.

These actions serve as an introduction to the campaign — Blackhurst’s video promises more opportunities for involvement throughout the year.

Director of Student Conduct and Resolution Ashley Atteberry serves on the task force as Title IX Coordinator. She said the Task Force met during the summer to discuss implementation of the campaign, based on its final report released Mar. 1. The report, which can be found on the Office of the President’s section of MSUM’s website, offers recommendations to the President “about how to create a campus culture in which sexual violence … is not tolerated.”

One, Recommendation 2.1, is to identify a campus brand and logo. This is where It’s On Us MSUM was derived.

Atteberry said the task force’s semester goal is “for all campus community members to get educated.” Spring semester’s goal is to “encourage everyone to pledge, if they haven’t yet.”

Atteberry and her team have developed mnstate.edu/itsonus, connected to the Title IX webpage, to educate those affiliated with the university. All major MSUM web pages (future students, current students, and parents and family) include the It’s On Us MSUM logo and link as well.

But the website isn’t the only place to get educated.

“There are many departments and programs on campus that provide education and information regarding sexual assault awareness and sexual violence prevention,” Atteberry said. “Wellness educators, under the leadership of Lynn Peterson, provide programming and events in and out of the classroom on several related topics.”

Atteberry said the Office of Student Activities is also active, hosting Walk a Mile in Her Shoes in the spring.

“In addition, the Department of Athletics brought Linda Hancock to campus this September, talking about sexual health, and the Department of Public Safety has been offering Rape Aggression Defense classes this fall,” she said.

The MSUM Community Outreach Center, in collaboration with Soroptimist International of Moorhead, offered a screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, Thursday. While the film screening was not planned in correlation to the campaign, Atteberry perceived it as “an opportunity to keep the conversation going about the support and respect every campus community needs.”

The Office of Student Activities and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center is offering a screening of “The Mask You Live In” Tuesday. The film focuses on masculinity.

Dragons are also educated on these topics in the classroom.

“All new incoming students were required to complete the Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness training course on D2L this fall, and employees are required to complete a similar training,” Atteberry said.

The task force encourages all people of MSUM to take education of the topic into their own hands, whether it’s by exploring the It’s On Us MSUM webpage, attending an on-campus event or participating in discussion with fellow Dragons.

“At MSUM, our purpose is to transform the world by transforming lives,” Blackhurst’s video said. “I can’t think of a more important transformation than the elimination of sexual violence from our campus.”

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