UISG pledge drive combats sexual assault

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trent Fekkers didn’t hesitate when asked to sign a pledge to help keep fellow students safe from sexual assault. The University of Iowa sophomore says he has seen the emotional damage wrought by sexual assault. His friend is a survivor.

For Fekkers, signing the It’s On Us pledge is a commitment to help keep people of all genders safe from sexual assault. It's a promise to not be a bystander but, instead, to be part of the solution.

The UI is committed to preventing sexual violence, providing support to survivors, and holding offenders accountable. Many resources are also available across campus for students, survivors, and family members, including:

“It’s been very difficult for my friend,” he says. “She is my drive” (to sign the pledge).

This week, the University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) is spearheading It's On Us pledge drives across campus, encouraging students, faculty, and staff to take a stand against sexual assault and to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.

The pledge drive follows a White House initiative announced two years ago to end sexual assault on college campuses.

“We're pleased to see the students take a leadership role on this issue,” says Tom Rocklin, vice president for student life. “It takes all of us working collaboratively to prevent violence, provide support to survivors, and hold offenders accountable at the UI.”

Fekkers was among dozens of students on Tuesday who signed the pledge while waiting for lunch at Burge Hall. Sophomore Ben Nelson, an executive with UISG, and Noah Sund, a senior and member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, explained the initiative and guided students through the online pledge process. Each volunteer had a laptop on which students could type their name and join the national campaign.

“A big reason we are pushing this now is research shows that the most sexual assaults happen during the first six weeks of the academic year,” Nelson says. “We also want to really encourage people not to be bystanders and to step in and say, ‘This is wrong,’ if they don’t like what is happening.”

Student organizations are also encouraging students to change their profile picture on social media to the It’s On Us logo to help support the initiative.  

“All UI students should get involved in the movement to end sexual assault on campus,” says Rachel Zuckerman, president of UISG. “It's On Us, as the name implies, suggests that we can all play an active role in fostering a safer, healthier campus climate.”

For more information, visit itsonus.org.uiowa.edu.