Butler battles sexual assault

ANNIE WEBER | STAFF REPORTER

The Student Government Association called Butler students to action with the release of the “It’s On Us” video Feb. 25. This video takes a different approach than usual—reaching students with the voices of their peers.

“I, and other students featured in the video, firmly believe that the atrocity of sexual assault needs to end,” SGA President Chad Pingel said. “And the best way to accomplish this is to develop meaningful conversations with those around us.”

Those in the video relay statistics regarding sexual assault and call other Butler students to act and be a part of the solution rather than the problem.

David Ediger, SGA Presidential Affairs council member, produced the video and wanted to make it feel similar to a peer-to-peer conversation rather than a reprimand.

“The tone of the national It’s On Us campaign is a serious one, just as the issue is serious, but it is not negative, condescending or attacking,” Ediger said. “Treat it like you are having a tough conversation with someone you care about deeply, as that is the tone we wanted the video to have—students talking to students.”

The organization's official website asks individuals to take a pledge against sexual assault.

The organization’s official website asks individuals to take a pledge against sexual assault.

Ediger and Pingel both said the project was completely student-led. They said it was not in response to a specific issue on campus. After speaking with other students, they realized the problem of sexual assault was not just a national issue, but one that affects students across Butler’s own campus.

“We felt that the message was more powerful coming from students than from staff,” Ediger said.

Ediger decided to bring the campaign to Butler and create their own version of the video after a conversation with BUPD Assistant Chief Andy Ryan. Numerous videos have been produced in support of the campaign, some featuring celebrities and political figures, others from college campuses around the country.

The national It’s On Us campaign’s goals mirror the Stand Tall Project on Butler’s campus, started by Noelle Rich, junior psychology and sociology double major. After realizing the two organizations aligned, the teams for each organization met and discussed the direction in which they wanted the video to go.

“Once the video launched the campaign, Stand Tall would ‘take the reins,’ so to speak, to continue to spread awareness of the campaign and promote it on campus after that,” Ediger said.

Rich said she wanted the viewers of the video to feel empowered to do something about sexual assault after they finished watching.

Junior Noelle Rich founded Butler’s Stand Tall Project, which raises awareness of sexual assault.

Junior Noelle Rich founded Butler’s Stand Tall Project, which raises awareness of sexual assault.

“We are hoping to minimize the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility,” Rich said. “We like to use the phrase, ‘I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something, and then I realized—I am somebody.’”

Rich created the organization as a continuation of sexual assault awareness week.

“I wanted to start the organization so that there is a continuation of this initiative all year long, for students in all classes, not just a one-time thing during Welcome Week of your freshmen year,” Rich said.

Emma Edick, a sophomore journalism major and a face featured in the video, said being part of it was an honor.

“I am so proud of our student body for taking the initiative and seeing it through,” Edick said. “I just hope the momentum the video created can start conversations about sexual assault long past this week, month or even semester.”

There will be an It’s On Us event to facilitate the peer-to-peer conversation on sexual assault on March 30 at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Room.

The Stand Tall Project meets every Thursday at 8 p.m. in Jordan Hall room 174 for those interested in getting involved.

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