Williston, N.D., April 9th__With April being Sexual Abuse Awareness month, several students, teachers, and faculty at Williston State College have participated in the It's on Us initiative, an awareness campaign brought by the Obama administration to help put an end to sexual assaults on college campuses. WSC has created a video campaign that will be on display on the on-campus TVs, the college's YouTube channel, and on their Facebook page through the month of April to promote the It's on Us mission statement that this is "a cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault."
Leah Hoffman, LAC, Mental Health Counselor at Williston State College explained why she decided to bring this campaign to WSC: "We all hear the national statistics: One in five women is sexually assaulted in college. Being a smaller campus, we don't have those high rates; however, that doesn't mean we will be immune to it; and although it happens less often, men, too, are victims of these crimes. The basis of the campaign is in the title. It isn't 'It's on you' or 'It's on me.' The title reinforces that it's up to all of us at WSC to create an environment where sexual violence is not tolerated."
With over 20 participants pledging to the It's on Us campaign and volunteering for the video, WSC is introducing awareness into our community. "I think a campaign like this shows our community that sexual assault is a topic on our radar at WSC," Hoffman stated ". . and we are capable of addressing it. If it's not talked about, it becomes a taboo topic. If a person is assaulted they may reflect back on these efforts and feel more comfortable getting the appropriate help. I hope it shows our community that we are proactive, and instills confidence in us that we are capable of addressing these sensitive issues."
According to the campaign's mission statement, "It's On Us is a rallying cry inviting everyone to step up and realize that the solution begins with us. It's a declaration that sexual assault is not only a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but a societal problem which all of us have a role to play." Hoffman explained how WSC can contribute long term: "It's on Us aims to reduce the bystander effect. To do this, we must raise awareness so our students are better able to identify potential instances of sexual violence. We also know that people who feel more confident in their ability to help are more likely to take action. Bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur."
But each campus has its own responsibilities to keep people safe. "The most important thing with changing campus climate is awareness. People may be uncomfortable talking about sex or hearing the word rape; however, I would be more concerned if we weren't talking about it. You can't implement change without talking about it," explained Hoffman. As a conclusion to this month-long campaign, WSC will be hosting a Walk a Mile in her Shoes walk April 30th, more information to come later this month.
To Pledge to the Its On Us Campaign, visit: ItsOnUs.org.
To view WSC's Video campaign visit: https://youtu.be/dnrp9rn3o-c
For more information, contact Leah Hoffman at 701.774.4212
For other information regarding Williston State, visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND