Many of the leading advocates in UNC’s fight against sexual violence are survivors of assault themselves. And if one of those leaders has it her way, there will be a survivor on the federal government task force aimed at addressing the nationwide issue.
According to a report released by the White House, 1 in 5 women were sexually assaulted during college. In response to these numbers, President Barack Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which aims to help schools better prevent and respond to sexual assault on campuses around the country.
UNC junior Anna Barson created a petition asking the White House to include a current student who is also a sexual assault survivor on the task force.
“Because students are the ones who will be directly impacted and involved, they need to have their voices and perspectives in this discussion,” said Barson.
The petition had more than 450 signatures at the time of this article’s publication, far short of the 100,000 needed to prompt a response by the White House.
She said although she hasn’t received a lot of feedback, the response so far has been positive. Barson said she initially faced heavy backlash and victim-blaming as a survivor.
“It’s been really interesting to see the turnaround,” she said. “People are more comfortable with the phrase ‘sexual assault’ and are more intelligent about it.”
Barson said many students have already volunteered their time to generate publicity for the petition.
Sophomore Zach Padgett, who works on outreach for the campaign, identifies as an ally to survivors because of his experience with friends and family members who survived sexual assault.