The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 20th

Obama’s campaign against sexual assault to launch

The campaign, called “It’s On Us,” was created by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and aimed at men to encourage bystander intervention in preventing sexual violence on college campuses across the U.S.

“It’s a large-scale awareness campaign coming out of Vice President Biden’s task force on sexual assault that started this January,” said Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain.

Villemain and Student Body President Andrew Powell were initially invited to the conference call by Andy MacCracken, executive director of the National Campus Leadership Council. They also reached out to Alban Foulser and Maddy Frumkin, the co-chairwomen of Project Dinah, a UNC organization dedicated to ending sexual assault and interpersonal violence, to participate in the call.

Villemain said the campaign is a step in the right direction.

“The vice president’s task force was certainly a big deal, and I think this is a real commitment to move this conversation forward,” he said.

But for Villemain, the call didn’t give a clear impression of how the White House’s campaign will affect UNC, which he said has already been proactive in raising awareness and reforming campus sexual assault policies.

“I think the interesting thing about approaching sexual assault prevention at a national level is that campuses are very different, and campuses are at very different levels of sophistication in how they handle sexual assault and different levels of competence,” he said. “It’s important that they’re taking a leadership role, but UNC’s already taking a leadership role.”

Foulser said she is anxious to hear more about the campaign and how it will impact UNC when it’s launched.

“I think we’ll all learn more about their initiative on Friday, but I’m really interested to hear what kinds of plans they have and how that will affect UNC. I really don’t know much about it myself,” she said.

Frumkin said she appreciated the opportunity to participate in the call.

“I’m really happy that they reached out to us knowing that Project Dinah is very aligned with the campaign and to other student leaders who are working toward the same goals, so I think they did a good job of trying to get the appropriate people on the call,” she said.

Foulser said aiming the campaign toward men is a great way to involve them in the discussions about sexual violence on campus.

“As long as I’ve been with Project Dinah — this is my fourth year — there have been some men, but mostly women. I think it would be great if we could have more men,” she said. “I think it’s also really powerful to hear men stand up against sexual violence.”

Frumkin said even though UNC is ahead of other schools in its approach to sexual violence, having the campaign come from the White House will make a huge difference in raising awareness on campuses everywhere around the country.

“I think that it’s something we really do wanna work on our campus, and it’s definitely well-intentioned,” Frumkin said. “Having that message come from the president and the vice president can have a big impact.”


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