It’s On Us

Kolby is a member of the It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee, which is comprised of 28 students from college campuses and military academies across the country who embody the message of It’s On Us. Below is an editorial piece by Kolby which was featured in the Missouri State newspaper, The Standard on January 24, 2017.

Picture this: while attending college, one in five women are hit by a car. As a result, many of these women will drop out of school, become mentally unwell and live with the effects of this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

If a woman seeks disciplinary actions against the person that hit her, she will instead be questioned as the perpetrator. She will be asked to explain why she was in a position to get hit by a car, if she was wearing something that would make her easier to hit or why did her friends not make sure she was safe. None of these questions will negate the fact that she was hit by a car.

No answer to any of these questions would mean anyone deserved to get hit by a car. However, it is because of this line of questions and this form of victim blaming that will keep 95 percent of victims from reporting they were hit by a car. This means someone can continue hitting women with cars because, most likely, they will not face consequences for their actions.

Wouldn’t this be sad? Wouldn’t this be absurd? Wouldn’t this anger you? Well, it is happening at every college nationwide. But instead of women being hit by cars, they are being sexual assaulted.

The word “sex” immediately turns this into a taboo subject, limiting its occurrence in our daily conversations. I get it, sexual assault is not necessarily an ideal dinner conversation. When I talk to people about the It’s On Us campaign, I rarely get few follow-up questions about the organization or our mission. Instead, I get polite nods and questions about what former Vice President Joe Biden is like. (If you are now wondering about Biden, I would encourage you to read The Standard’s Oct. 11 article about it.)

When I run into a roadblock about why the organization is important or about why I believe sexual assault is an epidemic, I often recite the car analogy. I find it to be effective in explaining the scale of sexual assault, the problem with victim blaming and why women don’t report their assault. I tell them to picture all the women they know in their life: their mother, their sister, their friend, the cute girl on the Purple Route that they follow on Instagram. Do they not deserve to be respected? Do they not deserve to be protected?

The biggest danger to women does not come from sharks, snakes or spiders. It comes from men. Men who don’t take no for an answer, men who do not respect boundaries, men who know they can get away with it.

It is important to note that this is not a problem specific to women. Certainly women are subject to much more sexual violence than men are, but it still happens to men as well, especially those who belong to the LGBTQ community. Men are also far less likely to report their assault, mainly because of the emasculating stigma that surrounds being sexually assaulted.

All of these instances are why I and many others believe that it is on all of us to prevent sexual assault from occurring on college campuses. It is not just on the victim to prevent rape, and it is not just on the aggressor to not assault people. It is on all of us to be vigilant, to be aware and to speak up if we see something.

“If you see something happening ­— someone taking a drunk girl upstairs, someone holding onto someone’s wrist too hard, someone ignoring their partner’s plea to stop —for the love of God do something.”

This command from Biden last October ushered in a new sense of urgency and hope within me. We can do this. We can end this epidemic; we just have to keep our eyes open and our courage high.

This is a call to action. If you see something that is not right, do something. It sounds elementary, but it does not happen often enough.

This is not a partisan issue. It does not matter if you are a liberal, a conservative, a socialist or an anarchist.

Everyone deserves the right to consent. Everyone deserves the right to say no. Everyone deserves respect.

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