By Barry Janoff
September 22, 2014: The dire situations regarding domestic violence and sexual abuse that are impacting society and have elicited action from the NFL are now hearing a loud and massive voice from the White House, which has put its weight behind "It's On Us."
The national PSA platform is aiming its power toward "preventing and coping with" sexual assaults on campuses involving students and others. As such, it has found more than 40 partners to get the message out, including the NCAA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Microsoft–Bing, the American Association of University Women, Clear Channel–iHeart Radio, Electronic Arts and Viacom (parent company for VH1, MTV, BET, CMT, and Spike).
The campaign is also being supported by a bevy of athletes and celebrities. The roster featured in the 60-second launch spot includes Kevin Love of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, musicians Common and Questlove, Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington and Mayim Bialik.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also appear in the campaign, which encompasses TV, print, on college campuses, Internet and such social media destinations as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The spot, posted on YouTube late last week, had nearly two million viewers by Sept. 22.
"The 'It's On Us' campaign seeks to engage college students and all members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault in the first place," according to a statement from The White House Office of the Press Secretary. "The campaign is being launched in partnership with the Center for American Progress’ Generation Progress, along with student body leadership from nearly 200 colleges and universities across the country, collegiate sports organizations such as the NCAA, and private companies that have strong connections with students at colleges and universities."
The NCAA said it would support “It's On Us” with its 1,100 member schools through resources on NCAA.org, coverage of the campaign in its quarterly magazine, Champion, activities during the National Week of Action in November and a half-day session on sexual assault and violence prevention at the NCAA's annual convention in January.
In addition, viewers will see “It's On Us” PSAs in-venue at NCAA championship events and ongoing engagement on social media.
Electronic Arts said it has lined up "a major presence across social media channels and online platforms" to carry the “It’s On Us” message to fans and players of EA’s games.
Viacom has promised to promote and amplify the message of the “It's On Us” campaign through a variety of their online properties, including MTV, VH1, BET and CMT. They will be changing its avatars on its Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media channels to the “It's On Us” badge, as well as promoting the PSA through those channels.
MTV will be using its "Look Different" brand to "engage with their audiences on this campaign through a variety of online and on-air platforms." CMT will featuring stories about the campaign on their home page, as the lead story in their November CMT One Country newsletter and on their social media platforms.
According to The White House Office of the Press Secretary, “'It’s On Us' aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it. The campaign reflects the 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. We are committed to creating an environment — be it a dorm room, a party, a bar or club, or the greater college campus — where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. This effort will support student-led efforts already underway across the country, and will focus particularly on motivating college men to get involved."
The 30-second spot, which will also air in shorter segments with individual messages from the likes of Hamm and Queslove, sees the athletes and celebrities in extreme close-up, each offering a snippet of a longer message.
"It's on us to stop sexual assault. To get in the way before it happens. To get a friend home safe. To not blame the victim. To look out for each other. To not look the other way. To stand up. to step in. To take responsibility."
Biden then says, "It's on all of us to stop sexual assault." And President Obama concludes the spot with, "Learn how. And take The Pledge at ItsOnUs.org."
The campaign also comes with a Pledge, described as a "personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It is a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution."
• To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
• To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur.
• To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
• To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
As part of this ongoing effort, the overseeing Task Force has released three new best practices documents "that can help colleges and universities improve their response to sexual assault."
The documents, posted on NotAlone.gov, "will provide sample policy language to help schools strengthen the role of Title IX coordinators; provide interim and supportive measures for victims; and, define prohibited conduct in their sexual misconduct policies."
According to The White House Office of the Press Secretary, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will also award more than $6 million to 18 colleges with grants to develop comprehensive campus sexual assault prevention and response programs.
Among the 40 partners listed as “It’s On Us” partners include, American Association of University Women, Athletic Coast Conference, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Clear Channel–iHeart Radio, College Humor, Conversant Media, Electronic Arts, Everfi, Generation Progress, Mekanism, Men Can Stop Rape, Participant Media, Microsoft–Bing, NCAA, National Campus Leadership Council, Newsweek, National Women’s Law Center, On Campus Media, Only With Consent, Our Time, Pac 12, Park Pictures, PVBLIC, RAINN, SB Nation, The Mill, Tumblr, Ultraviolet, USA Characters Unite, U.S. Olympic Committee, Verifone Media and Viacom.
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