UNA students take a stand against sexual assault

Freshman Sierra Hill signs the “It’s On Us” banner indicating she took the pledge to prevent sexual assault on campus. Student Government President Nick Lang said over 257 students signed the banner Nov. 5.

The Student Government Association hosted an “It’s On Us” campaign launch party at the Memorial Amphitheater Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s On Us” is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Students enjoyed pizza, Frios Gourmet Pops and T-shirts while SGA and Shoals Crisis Center, a nonprofit organization against sexual violence, informed students of ways to prevent sexual assault on campus and throughout the community.

“Over 257 students signed a banner taking the pledge against sexual assaults,” said SGA President Nick Lang. “It exceeded our expectations and was phenomenal, and this was just our launch party.”

Lang said the main goal of the event was educating students about “It’s On Us” and sexual assault.

“It’s amazing UNA is bringing this issue to attention,” said freshman Bryant Hasheider. “Sexual assault is a serious matter that needs to be addressed for the protection of everybody.”

Shoals Crisis Center intern Alexis Bunley said it is good that students are taking a stand against sexual assault.

“Every one of us, student, staff or faculty, can do something,” said Title IX Coordinator Tammy Jacques. “Sexual assault has been a nationwide issue for years that is not often addressed.”

Jacques said providing support and educating students on addressing or intervening in problem situations aids in the prevention of sexual assault.

“Students will understand it is our responsibility to be educated and show respect for others whether it be an inappropriate joke or direct verbal abuse,” she said.

Junior Stormy Morgan said she hopes the campaign brings awareness not just to the victims but also to the perpetrators.

“I want offenders to know that more people are watching than they think,” she said. “Hopefully that alone will help lower (the number of) sexual assaults.”

Students can request peer educators to speak to student groups about sexual assault prevention, Lang said. These educators are students trained to help others better understand sexual assault and how to get help.

He said Greek societies, RSOs and First-Year Experience classes have already requested peer educators speak at their meetings. Any student organizations can request the educators to speak to their groups about sexual assault, he said.

“It is sad that this is a problem today, but great that it’s being brought to attention to help students protect others and be protected from sexual assault,” said senior Mikey Hollander.

Lang said more events are coming to further educate students about how they can help prevent sexual assaults from occurring.

A Title IX advisory board made of faculty, students, staff and local agencies meet monthly while school is in session to discuss the prevention of sexual assault, Jacques said.

The board also meets once during the summer, she said.

“We’re going to take steps so sexual assault does not happen in our (community),” Jacques said.

Resources on and around campus for students involved in sexual assault include Student Counseling Services, the Center for Women’s Studies, University Health Services, Shoals Crisis Center and SafePlace of Florence.