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Bringing awareness to sexual assault

Student organizations have been partnering to bring awareness and education on sexual assault to campus during “It’s On Us” week.

The “It’s On Us” campus initiative promotes students signing a pledge to help prevent sexual assault and to create a safe environment at school.

“One in five college-aged women will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during her time in college. This number is too high,” Rebels Against Sexual Assault (RASA) Secretary Sydney Green said. “It is unacceptable that this issue has directly affected 20 percent of our college females. It is imperative that we as students do everything we can to put an end to sexual assault.”

Green said Associated Student Body President Rod Bridges approached RASA members with a partnership between the two organizations. RASA had been looking to bring the It’s On Us campaign to the University of Mississippi’s campus and agreed.

The organization is social media campaign. An infographic about sexual assault is also released each day. RASA asks members to promote the “It’s On Us” on their personal social media profiles and to share the week’s events on Facebook.

RASA also has tables set up throughout the week to get people to sign the pledge. The members give stickers to those who sign the pledge.

“We have laptops set up outside the Union at lunch during this week to give students quick access to the pledge,” Green said.

“I feel we can do better as a community. This issue affects everyone and every college campus and we should be doing everything possible to lower the risk of this happening,” Paige Ryder said.

Ryder is a member of RASA from Ocean Springs. She is a junior at Ole Miss.

“Many people are not aware of how many people are victims of sexual assault. Education is important to prevent future sexual assaults, but is important so survivors know where they can get help and know that there are people on their side,” Ryder said.

Although some could argue the pledge is just a piece of paper, Ryder believes actions speak louder than words.

“When someone takes time out of their day to stop and pledge to help stop sexual assaults, their actions show they truly believe in helping others and in the betterment of our campus as a whole,” she said.

Green said the “It’s On Us” pledge opens up a campus-wide dialogue for students. The process of the week will help raise awareness and start a conversation between students.

“When we as a campus take a stance against sexual assault, perpetrators will begin to understand that our university community will not tolerate abuse of our students. That is how we change a culture,” Green said.