Ramapo Joins ‘It’s On Us’ Campaign

Photo by Steve Fallon

Ramapo has become one of the many colleges and universities across the nation that have taken up the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses. Incorporating this campaign into the Ramapo community has been a campuswide initiative, supported by numerous departments and organizations on campus.

The “It’s On Us” campaign was launched by the White House in September. It encourages college students to sign a 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 and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

The White House Task Force reports that one in five women and one in 16 men are victims of sexual assault, and of those assaults, only about 12 percent get reported. The campaign aims to combat these disturbing statistics.

At Ramapo, the “Its On Us" campaign has been spearheaded by the Women’s Center, the Center for Health and Counseling Services and the Student Government Association, along with the Health Awareness Team, the Black Student Union, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the spring 2015 Public Sociologies class. These groups have teamed up to host tabling events where students, faculty and staff could sign the pledge. As a result, hundreds of people at Ramapo have made the commitment.

This campaign has worked in conjunction with last semester’s RamaPledge, which SGA launched, holding students who signed to the promise to respect others, seek assistance for victims of sexual assault, utilize campus resources and be a good samaritan.

On Thursday, a viewing was held in the Pavilion to watch the “It’s On Us” video that was made as a part of the effort. Filmed by RCTV, the video featured Ramapo students, staff, faculty and administration declaring an end to sexual violence on campus. The short film ended with President Peter Mercer calling all members of the Ramapo community to band together through this campaign.

The screening hosted a number of speakers who spoke to the importance of the “It’s On Us" campaign. After an introduction by Brooke Jamison, the graduate assistant for the Women’s Center, Maggie Walters, the graduate assistant for the Center for Health and Counseling Services, outlined what the pledge is and why Ramapo championed it, while Kat McGee, coordinator of the Women's Center and of the Assault Contact Team, also spoke.

“We’re a community that cares for each other, that supports each other, and this means acting when we think that someone is in trouble and never looking the other way when our gut tells us that something is wrong,” said McGee to the audience.

McGee laid out different ways students can be advocates of change on campus, including holding their friends accountable when making an inappropriate joke, intervening when they see a situation where consent is not or cannot be given and ending sexual objectification.

Next, Judith Green, the director of the Center for Health and Counseling Services, spoke to the different resources available on campus for survivors of sexual assault. The Center for Health and Counseling Services has available ongoing counseling services, urgent medical care, STI testing and emergency contraception, as well as prevention programs.

“By participating in this pledge Ramapo as a community has decided that sexual violence will not be tolerated,” Green said in her address.

The final speaker before the video was shown was a representative from Healing Space, Bergen County’s sexual violence resource center, who talked about the support systems set up at Healing Space to aid survivors of sexual violence.

Many members of the Ramapo community came out to the screening, an indication of the widespread support the “It’s On Us” campaign has received at Ramapo.

“Especially with what’s been happening in recent times,” said junior Briana Jones, who attended the screening, “it’s important for the College to come together as a collective body and let their students know that this can’t happen anymore.”