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‘It’s On Us’ opens conversation on sexual assault

Students sign the "it's on us" banner to demonstrate taking responsibility to stop sexual assault
Students sign the "it's on us" banner to demonstrate taking responsibility to stop sexual assault

The event was organized by Sigma Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma and partnered with Alpha Chi Omega and Sigma Sigma Sigma. Money raised will be donated to Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Andrew Clark, president of Sigma Phi, said an estimated 300 people had gathered around the Old Well, and over 20 organizations were represented.

Speakers like Hathaway Pendergrass, the president of the Board of Directors at the Orange Country Rape Crisis Center, spoke about sexual assault on college campuses. He said phrases like sexual assault were avoided when he was a UNC student.

“We see you. We hear you. We believe you,” Pendergrass said.

After the speakers, attendees walked around Wilson Library and back to the Old Well, passing around a survivor’s story for attendees to read.

One Act, a student wellness organization for sexual violence prevention and education, held workshops after the event about engaging with students through conversations about sexual assault.

Junior Brian Vaughn, risk manager of Sigma Phi, said the workshops can help participants think about how they can take action.

“We can help students identify situations in which sexual assault may occur and empower them to intervene in situations where consent hasn’t been given,” he said.

Clark said he hopes the event raises awareness for the prevalance of sexual assault.

“The event is about raising awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence on campus and specifically within the Greek community,” Clark said. “And then challenging institutions that we’re a part of and that we depend on to support survivors and eliminate a culture of sexual violence.”

Clark said this event is important to him as a college student and as a member of a fraternity. He knows survivors of sexual assault and said seeing their pain is difficult.

“I would say for me specifically as a member of a fraternity, one of the reasons that I am so adamant that we do something like this is that it’s been proven through multiple studies that fraternity members are three times as more likely perpetrators of sexual assault,” Clark said. “As a member of a fraternity, that’s both disgusting and unacceptable.”

Clark said he is proud of the work they have done and wants to continue to naturally progress a culture of consent.

Vaughn said it is important to recognize other groups on campus who are taking action against sexual assault. He said it’s a prevalent issue in the Greek community and Sigma Phi wants to normalize the conversation by being involved.

“I think it’s important to note while Sigma Phi is a fraternity sponsoring this event, I don’t think we’re really the leaders on this topic on our campus,” Vaughn said. “Groups like Siren, other groups that support women and survivors, like the Women’s Center, are the ones that are doing the most important work on this campus.”

First-year Katy Smith, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, said bringing the Greek community together is a way to foster communication about the topic.

“It’s just really important to raise awareness and I want to learn more about the topic and be here for other people to learn about it as well,” Smith said.

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