“It’s On Us” brings awareness to sexual assault and rape prevention

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It's On Us members put together self-defense key chains. - Managing Editor / Abigail Twiford

Sexual assault is a prominent issue on campuses across the country. Rowan University is no exception, with the university seeing a rise in reported sexual assaults over the last few years.

In response to this, a student group on campus was founded to help in the prevention of and response to this nationwide issue. Kit Lillia, a psychology major and women’s and gender studies and Africana studies minor, started the club in the spring semester of 2023, originally under the name Stop Gender-Based Violence or SGBV. 

“So I felt like on campus, there were spaces for literally anything else. But there was nothing around [for sexual assault], so I thought that we needed a safe space for people who are survivors or just people who support ending violence on campus,” said Lillia. 

“It’s On Us” is a national organization, active in all 50 states, with chapters on 275 campuses.  

The club became a chapter of the national “It’s On Us organization when the national branch found out about the club through the Temple University chapter’s Instagram page and reached out to recommend that the club change its name and become Rowan’s chapter of “It’s On Us.” 

The club does a number of activities and holds events to spread awareness about preventing sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as educating students about consent and how healthy relationships work. 

“It’s On Us’s” Week of Action ran from Monday, October 23 through Thursday, October 26. Rowan’s chapter participated, starting with a self-defense keychain-making event. Students could come to the club to pick up whistles, flashlights, pom poms, and alarm buttons that could be pressed if the owner felt they were in danger. 

Rose Smith was a psychology major in attendance at the keychain-making event. 

“I think it’s just so important to believe in issues. And I think that “It’s On Us” stands for a lot of issues that I care about personally. I think specifically for this event, I really care about women’s safety, but also just the general privilege of feeling safe,” said Smith.

A banner-creating event, where students could put purple handprints on a large white banner on the patio of the Student Center for Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held Tuesday afternoon. 

That night, students gathered in the pit of the Student Center for an open mic night. Those in attendance were invited to get on stage and share their stories of abuse or assault. Topics like mental health after an assault, male victims not being taken seriously, the reasons why a person may not report an abuser, and the complex emotions that arise when a perpetrator is a likable person were all discussed by those who came forward. 

A pumpkin painting event was held Wednesday night, where people could purchase a small pumpkin for $1 and paint it purple to raise awareness about domestic abuse. 

Bhavya Sadasivuni is a Human Resources major and a member of the Eboard.

“The club is important to me because it spreads a lot of awareness. And it hits like a lot of points that most people don’t do, especially with the university training. So I feel like the bigger the club becomes the better we’ll be with, like, getting better consent culture,” said Sadasivuni.

The group plans to collaborate with other organizations on campus, specifically hoping to create a partnership with the Title IX office so the club can assist students in filing claims with the office. In the event a claim has already been filed, the club hopes to be able to get them processed more quickly and efficiently. 

The club also hopes to co-sponsor next semester’s Take Back the Night event, which also allows students to share their experiences and feelings in a safe environment, as well as raising further awareness about consent, how to be an active bystander and encourage a culture of consent and respect on campus.

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