What if bears killed one in five people?

That’s the comparison the “It’s On Us” campaign is making to draw attention to the statistic that one in five women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate college.

“It’s On Us” is a White House campaign launched in September 2014 aimed at engaging college students and campus communities in ending sexual assault.

This week, colleges across the country, including the University of Richmond, are participating in events as a part of the White House’s second annual “It’s On Us” week of action.

Last Thursday, to kick off the week of action, “It’s On Us” released a new public service announcement video, starring popular actors and created by College Humor, which poses the question “What if bears killed one in five people?”

“Including well-known figures from media in the ad campaigns makes a significant impact on society, which is a powerful part of this campaign,” said Beth Curry, coordinator for sexual misconduct education and advocacy.

Richmond is promoting the “It’s On Us” week of action through various events and programs happening on campus this week, Curry said.

These events include the premiere of the Theater for Social Change’s new play “Timely Warning,” which explored the topic of sexual assault, on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and a Spiders for Spiders training session on Friday, Nov. 13, which teaches students how to be active bystanders, Curry said.

This week is also White Ribbon Campaign week on campus, intended to raise awareness about sexual violence against women. The campaign has been tabling in the Commons, encouraging students to sign a pledge or participate in “Walk the Commons in Her Shoes,” in which students can try on red pumps and walk down the hallway. The week culminates with the White Ribbon 5K run on Friday, Nov. 13, Curry said.

This is the third year the run has been held, and each year more people participate and more money is raised, said Gary Honickel, area coordinator for Richmond College. 

Since the “It’s On Us” campaign was launched last year, celebrities, major companies and sports leagues have participated, aiming to show that everyone can help prevent instances of sexual assault, wrote Vice President Joe Biden in an op-ed about the week of action.

From Nov. 8-14, Biden will be traveling across the country, making stops at various universities, such as Clemson University and the U.S. Naval Academy, to call on students and administrators to take the steps necessary to prevent sexual assault on their campuses.

"Have the gumption to step in, tell him, expose him, save him. Have the nerve," Biden said at Syracuse University on Thursday. "Look at that young woman as if she were your sister or your mother. You know it's wrong. You know."

“It’s On Us” encourages everyone to take the pledge “to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported,” according to the campaign's website.

“I like the fact that it originated from the White House and that this issue is being addressed on the national level,” Curry said. “I like the simple concept that the campaign promotes: to make a personal commitment to keeping others safe from sexual assault, and to not be a passive bystander, but instead be a part of the solution.”

The “It’s On Us” campaign supplements the White House’s Not Alone report, which was published in April 2014 and opened with the line “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college.” These results were echoed with an Association of American Universities campus survey released in September 2015, which included around 15,000 responses from 27 schools, and found that 23 percent of women reported to having been sexually assaulted or abused while in college. 

Contact managing editor Brooke Harty at brooke.harty@richmond.edu 

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