by Emily Engle
President Obama launched a new initiative coined “It’s On Us” in a September 19th speech. It is aimed at combating sexual assault on college campuses, a growing problem demonstrated by the President’s statistics: 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted during her college years, yet only 12% of assaults are reported and only a fraction of those cases culminate in the perpetrator’s punishment.
“It’s On Us” states that all Americans should feel responsible for preventing sexual assault and it pushes for a shift in our culture’s “not my problem” way of thinking. Explaining the roots of this spreading crime, the President affirmed, “Our society still does not sufficiently value women…We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should.” He continued, “It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.”
The initiative calls to action all men, emphasizing that males need to speak against domestic violence. Explaining this further, President Obama stated to men, “Tell your buddy when he’s messing up. It is on grown men to set an example and be clear about what it means to be a man.” And to parents nationwide, the President added, “It is on [you] to teach [young men] respect for women.”
The White House has been fighting sexual assault for months now; in April, President Obama’s administration released guidelines aimed at pushing universities to do more in terms of preventing and addressing assault on campuses. And in May, as another pressure tactic, the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges and universities under questioning for their poor handling of sexual assault incidents.
Many companies, groups, and associations are joining the White House in this fight, as well, including Viacom, CollegeHumor, Electronic Arts, NCAA, Pac 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, American Association of University Women, and advocacy groups Generation Progress and Men Can Stop Rape.