President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce a new public awareness and education campaign Friday designed to change the culture on college campuses and prevent sexual assault before it happens.
The campaign is the next phase in the White House’s multi-pronged effort to reduce the rate of sexual assault on campuses and to support survivors. The campaign, called “It’s On Us,” will be aimed at changing the culture by inspiring every person on a college campus to take action, big or small, to prevent sexual assault.
The campaign’s first public service announcement, which features President Obama and Vice President Biden and celebrities like Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, and Connie Britton, will air on Saturday on the big screens in several college football stadiums during games. Though senior White House officials declined to give further details of the PSA during a call with reporters, the White House said the campaign would be particularly focused on getting young men involved. That theme began with a PSA the White House launched in April called “1 is 2 Many,” featuring male celebrities like Steve Carell and Daniel Craig.
The campaign will draw from a popular trend in sexual assault prevention: bystander intervention, a public awareness and training philosophy that encourages members of the community to intervene when they see sexual violence about to happen. Many colleges have adopted such training programs on campus, and a recent CDC report found that bystander intervention has great potential to drive change.
“The campaign reflects a belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the rest of us also have a role to play,” the White House said.
In addition to the PSA, with the help of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, private companies, collegiate sports organizations like the NCAA, and the student body leadership from 200 colleges and universities, many different platforms will carry the logo and the “It’s On Us” message. To get the word out further, Electronic Arts, a leading video gaming company, will carry the “It’s On Us” message to its players, Viacom will promote the “It’s On Us” message through its online properties, including MTV, VH1, and BET, and popular media personalities will create “It’s On US” content and promote it on their platforms.
The White House efforts will also include recommendations for three new best practices for colleges and universities to improve their sexual assault response, such as model policy information to include in their sexual misconduct policies. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will also award over $6 million to 18 colleges with grants to develop sexual assault response and prevention programs.