By Erin Brady | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexual assault and abuse is “more prevalent at college, compared to other crimes,” according to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, or RAINN. These types of heinous crimes are something that nobody should have to experience, but happen far too often.
However, an organization at Flagler College is now hoping to change this, one pledge at a time.
It’s On Us is a newly formed club dedicated to spreading awareness to the nationwide epidemic of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses.
Created in 2014, the initiative was formed by former U.S. president Barack Obama and the White House Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assault.
The mission of the initiative is to promote ‘bystander intervention, consent education, and survivor support’ across college campuses, according to their official mission statement. One important way to spread these messages are chapters started on college campuses across the country.
This semester, the new chapter at Flagler College is part of the 250 registered chapters associated with the organization. Darice Fowler is the president of Flagler’s new chapter.
“One thing I’ve noticed at Flagler is that we’re not really having a campus-wide discussion about sexual violence,” Fowler said.
Her inspiration for the club came from her researching the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Title IX process in the Spring of 2017, her freshman year.
However, it was her attendance at the It’s On Us National Leadership Summit this last August that truly kick-started her desire to begin the chapter.
“This is an issue that affects all of us,” she said.
“On any college campus, even if you are not a survivor of sexual violence, you know someone who is. This is a conversation Flagler’s campus needs to have because it’s on all of us to encourage and contribute to a safe community,” she said.
The importance of the club’s formation should not be lost on the school population. According to RAINN, 11.2% of all college students experience some kind of sexual abuse ‘through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
Furthermore, 23.1% of female students and 2.2% of male students will experience sexual abuse in some capacity during their undergraduate studies. Fowler provides me with more statistics that explore just how prevalent this problem is.
“Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 college-aged women will experience sexual assault,” she said.
“It’s 1 in 2 for bisexual women and trans individuals.”
This is a shocking number that truly highlights how badly organizations such as It’s On Us are necessary to college campuses.
The new program has already received praise from administrators. Jessica Kobryn, the Title IX coordinator at Flagler, encourages students to get involved.
“I think the reason that It’s On Us is so great is because it’s student-driven.When peers are educating peers, it seems to digest better, it’s more relatable,” she said.
It’s On Us’ Flagler chapter has already begun planning for big events this Spring.
“I am working with multiple departments and groups across campus to create this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month Campaign,” she said.
Starting with the second annual Take Back The Night event on April 2nd, she is hopeful that this campaign and its corresponding events are “not only educational, but impactful and empowering for survivors and their peers.”
Her advice for students interested in the chapter?
“The best way to contribute is to come out and get involved!”
Kobryn also encourages students to participate in the organization.
“Giving ideas for things they feel are needed on campus is always welcome,” she said.
“I also think just to practice what the organization preaches is also helpful.”
Students are encouraged to participate in any way they can, starting with signing the pledge located on the organization’s website. The Flagler College chapter of It’s On Us might just be getting started, but they have already begun making a significant impact on campus.
For more information, check out the It’s On Us instagram page @itsonus_fc. If you or somebody you know here at Flagler has been experiencing sexual harassment or abuse, contact the Title Ix office. Remember that you are not alone.