We’ve entered a new school year here in the US and with that comes all the excitement, hopes, dreams and anticipation of what the future holds. But sadly, a new school year also comes with the burden of sexual assault and rape statistics. According to research, rape is the most common form of violence on America’s college campuses, and one in four women will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career.
In the eye-opening documentary ‘The Hunting Ground’ we saw a handful of harrowing and extremely gut-wrenching stories of young women whose lives have been affected because of rape, and in some cases the men not only got away with it but successfully managed a campaign of bullying and silencing their victim, which is not uncommon.
Just as the school year kicked off, news broke of a Fraternity at Old Dominion University in Virginia which hung lewd banners outside their house saying “Freshman daughter drop off” next to another which read “Go ahead and drop mom off too”. The fraternity was suspended, and although some may see this as some dumb frat joke, unfortunately it is part of an ongoing problem of rape on college campuses.
The first 6 weeks of college for freshmen girl are often considered “the red zone” as it is when a high number of rapes and sexual assaults occur, and earlier this year a study claimed up to 20% of women who are raped on campus said it happened during their freshmen year.
Which is why the White House’s ‘It’s On Us’ campaign is important, especially as they just released a powerful video reminding men and women of the key ingredient in sex: CONSENT!
The campaign was initiated by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who headed up the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault launched in 2014 and so far they have enlisted the help of many high-profile celebrities to tackle the issues of sexual violence and rape from all angles. Whether it be in the NFL, in society amongst men, and now on college campuses, they are determined to change our cultural attitude toward victims which by and large tells them they are responsible.
Consent seems like such a no-brainer, but you may be shocked to find out only two states actually have laws. California became the first one to define was sexual consent actually is in 2014, meaning rape cases are harder to fall through the cracks.
And New York State became the second when Governor Cuomo introduced a bill called ‘Enough is Enough’ which again defines consent clearly in order to prevent any misunderstandings. It was only passed in the New York legislature earlier this year.
This latest ‘It’s On Us‘ video is asking people everywhere to take the pledge and spread the word about consent.
“Consent, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it” says actress Zoe Saldana in the video below.
The video also features younger celebrities such as Jesse Metcalfe, Josh Hutcherson and Matt McGorry telling viewers that sex without consent is rape, and it is the most important component in a sexual encounter.
This is a campaign that needs to invade all parts of society. An issue like rape on college campuses will not be solved by one law, or one movement. It will take collective action to ensure future generations of college students, of young women and men to understand that sexual assault and rape is no joke, it affects a person’s life forever. Put simply, it’s on us to recognize the problem and choose to take a stand.
Take a look at the video below and share it with every college student you know: