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It’s On Us: Be an Active Bystander with Hope Peterson

For this week’s Campus Celeb, Her Campus sat down with Hope Peterson, a junior at Wake Forest University, who is officially an on-campus representative for the It’s On Us campaign.

It’s On Us is a campaign launched to prevent sexual assault. One in four college students are sexually assaulted by the time they graduate. The It’s On Us campaign aims to raise awareness about sexual assault and inspire individuals to take action against sexual violence, especially on college campuses.

Hopefully, this week’s Campus Celeb will help bring awareness to this great cause. Learn more about the It’s On Us campaign through Hope’s interview below. And make sure to sign the pledge, as Hope did, to take a stand against sexual assault.

How did you get involved with It’s On Us?

Last year, during basketball season, I saw a commercial for the campaign that said the NCAA is in support of college athletes to end sexual assault through athletic teams, which lead me to sign the pledge. Then, It’s On Us was looking for leadership, and they needed people who could sponsor college events. I said, “I don’t know what I can do, but I can try something.” This past Friday, September 18, was the campaign’s one year anniversary. It’s On Us was looking for people to host events to get people  more involved in the campaign on college campuses, and so I hosted a pledge signing event on September 19, 2015.

What does the name “It’s On Us” mean?

We got a little bit of  flak during the event because people perceived the name as victim blaming, which I agree with. However, the pledge actually says, “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.”

Besides hosting the pledge signing event, what are other ways you’re promoting this campaign?

I’m working with the university’s Safe Office to create a display of the results that we got from our most recent event. I plan to display the results on campus to make people more aware of this movement. The point of the pledge signing, for me, was to make people more aware of this new campaign, because the dialogue on sexual assault is already out there. I have been working with the Safe Office and the Title IX Office to continue this conversation. There’s a group of students on campus who are starting an organization called Trailblaze as a way to continue the conversation. I’m also currently working with PREPARE to host an event to train people in becoming active bystanders.

This is a difficult question, but do you have a personal reason for supporting this campaign?

Someone who was very close to me growing up was sexually assaulted when I was in high school. So this campaign is very important to me. That’s why I support this campaign so much, because it’s on us, [as active bystanders], to stop sexual assault.

Can you give an example of a way that people can intervene without it being awkward for all parties involved?

Bystanders causing a distraction is a good example that PREPARE suggests. If you’re at a party, dance with your friend to pull her away from what could turn into a bad situation.

That’s a great idea! How can people get more involved in this campaign?

Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]. Currently I’m working with the other organizations to continue the conversation. If we’re able to get a round table discussion together, I want as many people there as possible. If people are interested, I’ll add them to the list.

Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like to add?

We’re here to support survivors. We’re here to give resources to those who want them. We acknowledge that sexual assault is wrong, and we want to support those who have been affected by it. We’re not at all trying to say it’s on us to stop it from happening to ourselves. We’re here to say it’s on us as third parties to help when we can, whether that be helping survivors or giving them support when they need to talk about it, or walking a friend home. It’s about supporting each other as human beings.

Her Campus couldn’t agree more with Hope. We hope this article has inspired you to always be an active bystander – it could make all the difference in someone’s life. To get involved with It’s On Us, contact Hope at [email protected].

If you or a friend have been sexually assaulted and need support, do not hesitate to contact the following:

The University Counseling Center: Located in 118 Reynolda Hall. Open 8:30 AM  to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday for scheduled and emergency walk-in appointments.  After-hours and weekend crisis response is also available when school is in session by calling the Student Health Service (336.758.5218)

PREPARE Student Advocates: 336.671.7075 (available 24/7 during fall and spring semesters)

Safe Office: 336.758.5285 (available 24/7)

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Tori Mason

Wake Forest

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