The White House plans to unveil the latest component of its plan to help colleges better handle sexual assault on campus on Friday — and the new campaign is focused on men, in particular.
“It’s On Us” aims to create more collective responsibility for preventing sexual assault and violence. It encourages students to intervene in situations where someone appears to be preying on another student, according to the Associated Press.
Vice President Joe Biden alluded to a new focus for preventing campus sexual assault in remarks made in April, when he emphasized the need to abandon outdated attitudes on sexual assault prevention that lead to victim blaming. His comments at the time coincided with the release of an initial report on campus sexual assault by the White House task force assigned to investigate the issue.
“I can’t say often enough it doesn’t matter what coat she was wearing, whether she drank too much, whether it was in the back of a car, in her room, on the street, it does not matter. It does not matter if she initially said yes and changed her mind and said no. No means no, wherever it is stated,” Biden said in April.
Experts in sexual assault prevention say bystander intervention and social media — both part of the new campaign — should be part of a comprehensive approach that encourages communities to take responsibility for preventing violence and being supportive when someone is victimized. The bystander intervention strategy teaches people how to look at social interactions for signs that a person might be about to commit a sexual assault and how to step in to prevent it.
“We firmly believe that the most effective way to do bystander intervention is a comprehensive approach that engages all community members,” Jane Stapleton, co-director of Prevention Innovations at the University of New Hampshire, which worked with the White House task force on a training program, told msnbc. “Students at every level of their college career — we need to engage grad students because they’re often the ones teaching labs, and engage faculty members and staff members, everyone in the environment around college students.”