The student government aims to spread awareness about sexual assault through an “It’s On Us” activity where students can bowl, eat pizza and take a pledge to help keep women and men safe.
“Strike Out Against Sexual Assault” is set for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the bowling alley of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union and is a part of a series of activities happening throughout the month.
Though the It’s On Us campaign is only a few years old, Student Body President Cattie Witt said it has already started to have a positive impact.
She said she was inspired by past student body presidents from Eastern who organized activities for the campaign to continue bringing awareness to this issue.
“I thought it was a really cool idea,” Witt said. “So, I took it upon myself to take it further and I’d love for it to keep building from here and have people be more and more aware of it.”
Witt said a lack of education is part of the reason sexual assault is such a prominent issue on college campuses.
While people know rape is wrong, Witt said, without clear identification of what is classified as sexual assault, students may not realize what they are doing is wrong.
Witt said by supporting the campaign, she hopes the number of sexual assault cases will dwindle.
“Bringing awareness about what it actually is can definitely help spread the word and make that number vanish,” she said.
Witt said two Charleston City Council members would be at Strike Out Against Sexual Assault to show community support of the campaign.
Bowling is a way to get students to participate in a fun activity while learning about something important, she said.
Senate member Will Outzen said this campaign will address an issue most universities would rather not discuss.
“The culture on a lot of college campuses is that ‘It’s OK, we’re just going to brush that under the rug,’” Outzen said. “(Sexual assault) needs to be addressed. By having the “It’s On Us” campaign, we bring the issue to the forefront.”
Outzen said his own experiences with sexual assault victims have left a powerful impression on his life.
One of Outzen’s friends is still dealing with the negative effects of being assaulted eleven years after it happened.
“No one should ever have to go through that and it’s terrible that people brush it under the rug and ignore it,” Outzen said.
Outzen said this matter affects not only the victims, but everyone else around them as well.
“You could know someone who has dealt with this, and chances are you probably do,” Outzen said. “It affects everyone, and it’ll affect them for the rest of their lives. We need to fix that.”
Outzen said an important part of the campaign is that it does not distinguish gender.
“It’s sexual assault no matter who it happens to,” Outzen said. “The sad truth is there’s this idea ‘Well, boys are stronger so they can (handle it)” or because of biological reasons they ‘really wanted it.’ No, they didn’t. For biological reasons, the body will react even if you don’t want it to.”
Outzen said although he is not a professional by any means on this issue, if a sexual assault victim opens up, it is important to support and listen to them.
“Be that wall for them to lean on, be that shoulder, be that person they can count on,” Outzen said.
By focusing on the topic of sexual assault with this campaign, Outzen said people will face the uncomfortable reality of the issue.
“People are going to hear it constantly this upcoming month,” Outzen said. “Hopefully that will lead to impactful changes in the future.”
Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]