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VOICES FROM THE CROWD: It’s On Us pledge encourages important conversations

When walking on the lower level of the Scot Center to the Swigart Strength Center, there are three poster boards hanging on the wall. On them are the signatures of student athletes who have been a member of a varsity sport at the College in the last four years underneath the It’s On Us symbol. This is a reminder to all athletes, athletic staff and our Fighting Scot community of the promise we have made to ourselves and the campus in regards to preventing sexual assault. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted our fourth signing of the It’s On Us pledge. Established in 2014, It’s On Us is a national campaign which works to end sexual assault. This campaign is a collaboration between the White House, the NCAA and the U.S. Olympic Committee meant to change the campus culture surrounding sexual assault. For the past four years, Wooster SAAC has held such a signing for new student-athletes. Student-athletes have pledged “to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” Thus far, close to 300,000 individuals across the country have signed this pledge. 

At the pledge signing, students also received information about consent, The College of Wooster Title IX office and resources for confidential reporting. SAAC presents these resources alongside the pledge to facilitate a discussion regarding rape, rape culture, consent and the importance of being educated about these topics. Sydney Schuster ’21, a field hockey player, was seen helping at this event asking each first year athlete, “Do you know what consent is?” to spark these conversations. 

According to the It’s On Us campaign, 11.2 percent of students experience rape or sexual assault in U.S. colleges. In response to these numbers, the NCAA national SAAC organization charged all collegiate athletic SAAC groups to join them in the It’s On Us initiative. Not only does this pledge afford Wooster athletics the  opportunity to publicly display our prevention to sexual assault, it helps guide our conversations and explore additional avenues of support. One such initiative introduced last year is #OneWoo which addresses inclusivity and diversity, stating that as student-athletes, we recognize, appreciate and respect our differences and support each other in times of hardship. #OneWoo alongside It’s On Us encourages student-athletes to be open and willing to having difficult, but important, conversations.

As a third of the student body, Wooster student-athletes have a significant voice on campus. We hope that by providing something like the It’s On Us pledge we can begin these conversations among the larger Wooster community. The pledge is a reminder for us to not be a bystander to the problem, rather, to be a part of the solution. 

Everyone on campus is encouraged to take the pledge at ItsOnUs.org. Additionally, the Wooster Title IX office is an amazing resource for any college students who have experienced sexual assault. The Athletic Department as well as SAAC urges that the entire college campus continues these dialogues regarding these topics. Ask yourself, do you know what consent is? Would you step up in a situation where consent cannot be given? 

Grace O’Leary, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at GOLeary20@wooster.edu.

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