Best Student Organization: It’s On Us commits to fighting sexual assault

It’s On Us has saved at least one life, and it has brought an issue to the spotlight in an effort to uplift others and prevent future sexual assaults.

Though there is no way to track the number of sexual assaults being prevented by its awareness campaign, It’s On Us has proved to be the most influential organization this year on campus.

The idea that an organization can help bring awareness to an issue that isn’t typically brought to the forefront of conversations and encourage students to share their survivor stories is a lofty one, but it has come to fruition on campus as of this year. It’s On Us has been at MU for a few years, but it wasn’t until this year that its director, junior Tori Schafer, and the other 20 or so members of its committee were able to get the UM System to officially recognize it and sign on to the national pledge.

In a country where rape on college campuses is all too common, It’s On Us is taking proactive measures to limit sexual assault cases.

It’s a topic not everyone feels comfortable talking about and a pervasive issue: Sexual assault affects 23.1 percent of all female undergraduate students and 5.4 percent of all undergraduate males, according to RAINN. But it’s an issue that is rarely brought up in class, in the residence halls or even among friends.

Societal norms still have a long way to go. That’s where It’s On Us comes in. Through the social media campaign that it has put together, students have been positively impacted with the support of the It’s On Us committee.

Bringing awareness to the issue and creating a community that makes people feel safe and welcome are the goals of this organization. One post even saved a student’s life. Schafer received a letter in March stating that a freshman on campus had been sexually assaulted and considered taking her own life. Fortunately, she didn’t do it because of It’s On Us.

Other student organizations have played a critical role this year, too, such as the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, who have lobbied on behalf of students to attempt to fix the wrongs that Gov. Eric Greitens created with his slashing of the budget. But It’s On Us has delivered the most impactful and most needed message on this campus.

And it’s a sustainable organization. Schafer and her good friend, Riley de León, who is also a big proponent of the campus initiative, will continue to lead its initiatives next year, and they have young members on their committee who will more than likely continue spreading the mission and uplifting the voices of others further down the road.

Schafer, who has been a champion of sexual assault awareness, also serves on the regional and national boards of It’s On Us, so she will bring in ideas from other campuses and carry with her the strategies that are working best here. Her connection to the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center has provided It’s On Us with the ability to not only raise awareness but also steer survivors toward vital resources.

And the year couldn’t have ended on a better note for the organization. In mid-April, they held their annual “Week of Action” as part of sexual assault awareness month, in which they hosted five events, the last being a collaboration with Mizzou Athletics.

The thought and success of bringing It’s On Us together with Tiger baseball for a “Teal Out” game was a fitting end to a great season of awareness.

It’s on us to recognize that sexual assault must end, and it’s on us to recognize and appreciate the impact It’s On Us is having on this campus. It’s saved at least one life, and it could prevent future life-altering experiences.

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