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UNC student-athletes take "It's On Us" pledge

In a joint project by the UNC Department of Athletics and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, student-athletes were encouraged to take a public stand against these increasingly prominent issues.

UNC released a two-minute video Monday entitled “UNC Athletics: It’s On Us” as a part of the “It’s On Us” campaign’s National Week of Action.

The campaign, initiated by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in an effort to include all Americans in the conversation about sexual assault, encourages making personal commitments to keep women and men safe from sexual assault.

“It’s On Us” is aimed at fostering a national sense of ownership of the issue and fundamentally changing the way people look at sexual violence.

In UNC’s video, male and female student-athletes representing various teams share reasons why they feel it is important to take a stand against sexual assault.

“We have a platform on campus unlike many other students,” said junior baseball player Benton Moss, a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “To be able to use this influence and add to the momentum that’s already been started by this organization is really positive.”

Cricket Lane, assistant director of athletics for student-athlete development, played an integral role in the production of this video and agreed with Moss’ sentiment.

“I think (athletes) have the best platform,” Lane said. “They have the privilege to show up on TV and to walk around and have people know who they are.”

“They need to use that privilege to educate others.”

Lane said Korie Sawyer, an assistant in Student-Athlete Development and alumna of UNC, wrote the video’s script but allowed the student-athletes to add a personal touch.

“We tweaked it to fit for them,” she said.

Other NCAA-member schools have made similar productions, presenting athletes as individuals actively opposed to interpersonal violence.

Moss said student-athletes voicing their support of the campaign might initially catch viewers off-guard.

“It’s a little more surprising coming from a group of athletes, people who are stigmatized as having a completely ‘work hard, play hard’ culture,” Moss said. “We’re not going to have this anymore. It’s on us to bring awareness to this issue and have you join us.”

Alban Foulser, senior co-chairwoman of Project Dinah, a campus organization geared toward ending sexual assault and personal violence, expressed her hope that the actions of athletes will echo the messages they shared.

“I think the video is a really great first step for the athletic department,” Foulser said. “I think it should be seen as a first step, though, and hopefully the athletic department will do more to get more athletes involved.”

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