The University of Richmond’s "It's On Us" Week of Action, a week devoted to sexual assault awareness, concluded last weekend after a well-attended series of events were hosted throughout campus.
The Week of Action was promoted and funded by a coalition of student organizations that included Spiders Against Sexual Assault and Violence (SASAV), the It’s On Us campaign, Women Involved in Living and Learning (WILL*) and the Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisors (PSMA).
The Westhampton College Government Association (WCGA) and the Richmond College Student Government Association (RCSGA) also helped fund a performance of the award winning play "The Haze," which sought to illustrate some of the effects of sexual assault.
To learn what these groups hoped to achieve through the Week of Action, The Collegian spoke with representatives from the respective organizations and explored some of their unique mission statements.
Alexandra Abreu, WC ’17, co-leader of the new PSMA program, explained that this is actually the program’s first year on campus, and that its objective was to provide students with a resource that they would feel comfortable relying on for support in the event of a sexual assault.
Members of PSMA and WCGA tabled all week in the Tyler Haynes Commons to raise money for the forensic nurses at St. Mary's Hospital.
"Many UR students will go to St. Mary's if they need to have a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit, or a rape kit, done," Abreu said. "We got to meet a few of the forensic nurses during training, and they are incredibly kind, strong, good-heartened people. The very least we could do was raise money to help them support survivors."
On Thursday, SASAV hosted a consent workshop in the Commons that aimed to mediate a conversation about what consent meant to those who attended. Students sat in a circle and affirmed that the workshop was a safe space before conducting an exercise in which they held hands and asked for consent, as well as discussed what each person wanted in the situation.
Claire Tate, WC ’20, attended the event and praised the workshop for its content and goals, but noted that many of the students present were already well-versed in the concept of consent, and expressed a desire for broader outreach.
"It would be really beneficial if this sort of intimate workshop could be held in such a way as to incorporate students who are less familiar with some of the material, particularly in an interactive setting," Tate said.
The It’s On Us campaign acted as another cornerstone of the week’s activities. Working closely with SASAV, they implored students to sign their pledge, which is a vow to recognize that non-consensual sex is rape, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur and to intervene in situations in which consent cannot or has not been given.
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Rennie Harrison, WC ’18, president of both SASAV and the It’s On Us group on campus, is a member of the national It's On Us student committee, a group of 28 students at universities around the country who work to educate about sexual assault and prevent it.
Harrison explained that It’s On Us is a movement started by former U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
"Since its inception in 2015, almost half a million people have signed the It's On Us pledge, and hundreds of It's On Us events are now hosted on campuses across the country each year,” Harrison said.
"All of us have the power to change campus culture, to make it a place where sexual assault is not tolerated," Harrison said. "It really is on us to do that work, and to show the care and concern for one another that can transform campus into a safer place for everyone.”
Contact reporter Dan Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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