Taking up action against sexual assault, the UT chapter of It’s On Us began its first steps toward ending sexual violence on campus by holding its first meeting Tuesday.
Forty-four percent of students at UT who experienced sexual harassment had been assaulted by peers, according to a report last year by UT’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault. It’s On Us, a national initiative to address sexual assault on college campuses, reports on their website that only 20 percent of female student victims, between ages 18 to 24, report such assault to law enforcement.
The UT organizers of It’s On Us hope to change these numbers.
“The goal of It’s On Us is to change the conversation about sexual assault on campus by teaching people about bystander intervention, how to prevent sexual assault and what to do if it happens to you,” said Briana Torres, Plan II and English sophomore and the group’s campus organizer.
It’s On Us was created by President Barack Obama and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in 2014. With a sponsorship from UT’s Title IX Office, the group was formed last semester, but meetings began this week.
Breall Baccus, confidential advocate and prevention coordinator for the Title IX Office, said as advisor, she wants to support prevention efforts on campus.
“We have some really wonderful organizations on campus who are working to combat sexual assault,” Baccus said. “But we know that students get engaged in different ways and that there’s always students looking to participate who may not have found what’s best for them yet.”
During the first meeting, prospective members discussed potential focuses of the group.
“There are a lot of organizations that have to do with combating sexual assault and interpersonal violence,” Torres said. “We’re asking prospective members what they feel is not being addressed by these other organizations so we can address that.”
Delaney Davis, It’s On Us prevention captain, said the organization will provide prevention and survivor outreach, while also working to fill in the gaps by focusing specifically on Title IX education.
“I’ve always been really passionate about ending sexual assault on campus,” said Davis, a government and Spanish freshman. “I think going to college is a sacrifice for a lot of students in some way or another, but their safety shouldn’t be one of those sacrifices. If you come to college, you shouldn’t be met with sexual assault.”