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The Daily Tar Heel

Sexual assault crusade begins at federal level

“For too long, survivors have carried the burden of getting people to pay attention. It’s the bystanders who need to stand up,” said Tina Tchen, assistant to the president and chief of staff to the first lady.

Since the campaign’s launch, 226 universities have signed on to be a part of the campaign.

North Carolina schools on the list include N.C. State University, UNC-Asheville and three private colleges: Elon University, High Point University and Wake Forest University.

UNC-CH’s student government has not yet signed to join the initiative.

Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain said student government members are addressing the campaign.

“We’re not looking to check a box and say we’ve signed onto a campaign ­— send an email and we’re done,” Villemain said. “We’re looking to make sure that whatever we do is an inclusive campaign and improves something at UNC.”

The White House is partnering with celebrities, TV channels, the NCAA, media outlets and activist groups to launch the campaign, which encourages campuses to create an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable.

“Our goal of this campaign is to both change culture nationally but also empower students on local campuses to create campaigns and engage new people in the fight to end sexual assault,” said Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress.

The student governments at N.C. State and UNC-A are working to implement programs and resources to help educate students.

“The administration can do whatever they want, and the White House can do everything they want, but at the end of the day, students need to take responsibility of each other,” said James Whalen, UNC-A’s student body president.

N.C. State’s student leaders signed onto the campaign after initial conversations piqued the interest of student body president Rusty Mau.

“Our university administration has already started working to combat sexual assault, so it was important that they be aware that a student campaign would be forthcoming, and it will go well with their efforts,” he said.

Mau and Whalen both said that since the campaign launched recently, they are still planning. They said students can expect to see initiatives start cropping up across campus.

“This week we’re filming a PSA that is similar to the one on the campaign’s website that we want to feature at various events and possibly sporting events to show students and the entire N.C. State community that this is an issue that we all take seriously,” Mau said.

The campaign was launched after the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, commissioned by President Barack Obama, published a report in April.

The report included recommendations to encourage all members of campus communities to be active participants in preventing sexual assault.

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