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May 15, 2015

SG's It's On UofC campaign collects anti—sexual assault pledges

Over the past two weeks, Student Government has initiated It’s On UChicago, a campaign to encourage students to sign anti–sexual assault pledges in Hutch Courtyard and the Reynolds Club marketplace. The campaign is a prelude to Sexual Assault Awareness Week, which starts officially on Sunday, May 17.

The UChicago campaign is based on It’s On Us, a national initiative to end sexual assault on college campuses launched by President Obama, who has encouraged universities to adopt their own versions of the pledge campaign. The UChicago pledge requires participants to always ask for consent before sexual activity, to prevent others from committing sexual acts without asking for consent, and to believe and support survivors of sexual assault. The pledge also includes an added clause pledging to support calls for the University to install educational programs to teach students about their Title IX rights and resources. The pledge campaign was inspired by a similar program at UCLA, called 7000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault.

“We didn’t like that it [the national It’s On Us pledge] only focused on bystander intervention so we wanted to make it a little better,” Veronica Portillo Heap, coordinator of the event, said. 

Signed pledges are then posted on a board outside C-Shop. More than 70 have been signed over the past week.

“[The University doesn’t] have any accessible resources for people to know if they report what happens, what can they expect, when can they have an advocate, how many people are they going to have to tell their story to, et cetera, et cetera,” Portillo Heap said.

Student Government has also been encouraging students to take pictures holding a whiteboard with a personalized message beginning with, “It’s on UofC to...” regarding sexual assault at UChicago. These photographs have been compiled in an album on SG’s Facebook page.

“It’s on UofC to discourage environments that normalize sexual assault,” one participant wrote.

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