Combating Crime on Campus: It’s On Us

Published: March 31, 2015 | Author: Olyvia Meyer | Read Time: 2 minutes

This month The Hunting Ground – a provocative documentary about the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses – hit theatres. Earlier this year, when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, audiences were shocked by the film’s portrayals of the dangers of campus crime and appalled by the inadequacies of most universities’ ways of handling the issue. 

According to a list released by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, more than 100 colleges across the nation are currently under investigation for possibly violating federal laws that aim to keep students safe.  

Many states (take California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New York for example) have multiple universities under investigation, but staying true to its reputation as one of the safest states in the nation, Utah stayed completely of the list.

Georgia Beth Thompson, director of Southern Utah University’s Center for Women and Families, calls for other states to address this problem. “We need all students to feel safe,” says Thompson, “Universities (across the country) must address sexual violence on campus.”

Thompson is one of many at SUU who have taken a stand, refusing to allow their campus to become another “hunting ground.”

The Center for Women and Families has partnered with other student affairs offices, including the Dean of Students, Counseling, Housing, Real Peers, Title IX, the Leavitt Center for Politics, and the SUU Police, as well as off-campus organizations like the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center and the Iron County Sexual and Domestic Violence Coalition, in an effort to keep SUU safe. 

This April, as part of National Sexual Assault Awareness month, the University will launch a campus-wide initiative called “It’s On Us.”

“’It’s On Us’ is a campaign supported by President Obama and The White House,” explains Bailey DeRoest of the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center, “It’s all about bystander intervention. We encourage all students to go to to take a pledge – a personal commitment to no longer be just a bystander, but to intervene and protect other men and women from sexual attacks.”

From the website students can change their Facebook or Twitter profile to the “It's On Us” logo to show they have taken the pledge.  

In addition to the campaign, events to raise awareness will be happening throughout the month including the 5K Teal Run, The Clothesline Project, and a bystander intervention training occurring on April 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. in the Entertainment Bureau on SUU's campus.

“Most people you talk to about rape prevention say ‘oh, that doesn’t apply to me. I’m not going to rape anyone,’” says DeRoest, “But the amazing thing about bystander prevention is that it makes rape everyone’s problem. Everyone is responsible. Anyone can intervene.” 

For students interested in joining the cause to combat sexual violence on campus, visit the Center for Women and Families in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

It really is ‘on us.’

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