As Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to a close, UT’s chapter of It’s On Us is hoping to make an extra push for sexual assault prevention through their first-ever Spring Week of Action.
It’s On Us, a student organization sponsored by UT’s Title IX office, will host events throughout the week focusing on promoting consent, bystander intervention and supporting survivors. Briana Torres, It’s On Us campus organizer, said through these events, the organization hopes to emphasize that sexual assault prevention is everyone’s responsibility.
“It’s not just on the survivor to reach out for assistance,” said Torres, a Plan II and English sophomore. “It’s on us, it’s on you, it’s on me.”
Their first event, Coffee for Consent, will be Tuesday in the West Mall, where students can get free coffee and discuss what consent means, how to ask for consent and what consent is not.
Ashka Dighe, It’s On Us member and neuroscience and Plan II freshman, said it is important to clearly define consent, and this event will help bring up the topic to students who might just be passing by on their way to class.
“A lot of people are in situations where they are kind of okay with things, but not really, and have a hard time speaking up for themselves in those situations,” Dighe said.
Isabella Fanucci, a psychology and speech language pathology junior, said she is interested in coming to Coffee for Consent because it is a great way to start conversations about consent in an informal way and reach out to students who might not come to a formal sexual assault prevention training.
“It can draw in people just to get a cup of coffee, but they will leave with knowing more about how to have a healthy relationship and how to practice consent,” Fanucci said in an email.
It’s On Us will also host a workshop Thursday in collaboration with the Title IX office and SAFE Disability Services to address ways to support survivors with disabilities.
On Friday, the organization will start a social media campaign called #ItWasAwkwardBut, where students can share experiences with intervening in situations where sexual assault might have occurred, Torres said.
“Yes, it is awkward to step in (in) situations like that,” Torres said. “But the campaign is to show that people do it, and it’s better if you do, because you’re going to be helping either yourself or someone else surrounding you.”
Fanucci said she has had multiple experiences intervening in situations that could have led to sexual assault, and she has had friends help her out of an uncomfortable situation. Stopping an assault before or while it is happening is hard but necessary, Fanucci said in an email.
“I lost several friends from one incident where I intervened,” Fanucci said in an email. “But my mentality is that I would rather interrupt something people have consented to and (have) them be mad at me than to not intervene and someone get hurt … If you don’t choose to stand up and help, who will?”