By Karen Flores, Asst. Features Editor
The LWGRC celebrated its fourth birthday along with the launch of Manhattan College’s new It’s On Us chapter on Oct 19.
According to the It’s On Us website, the national campaign was founded in September 2014 by the Obama-Biden White House that “has grown into the nation’s largest nonprofit program dedicated to college sexual assault prevention and survivor support activating students on hundreds of campuses in our awareness and education programs.”
Evelyn Scaramella, co-director of the LWGRC and associate professor of Spanish in the department of Modern Languages and Literatures, said that being able to celebrate the LWGRC’s 4th birthday along with the launch of the chapter on campus shows the tremendous growth the center has gone through.
“We wanted to launch It’s On Us during the fourth ‘birthday party,’ so to speak, because we think it’s an incredibly important new initiative within the campus,” Scaramella said. “In the grand scheme of things, four years is not a long time, but we’re proud that we’ve grown as much as we have and to be reaching more students on campus and becoming a more diverse and inclusive space.”
Scaramella believes that having an It’s On Us chapter on campus would allow for more students to interact with each other at the LWGRC while also providing a constant place for survivors of sexual assault to share their stories and provide feedback to ensure they get their needs met.
“We needed another kind of club that is a more regular day-to-day, on the ground organization where students can come to the LWGRC and work in partnership with the LWGRC to meet the particular needs of student survivors so that we can tailor our programming to address those needs,” Scaramella said.
Kate Behrens, a senior English and sociology major, is co-director of the It’s On Us chapter. She is also involved in Take Back the Night and is the leader of MeToo Mondays, a student led support group for people who are survivors of sexual violence. She hopes that the new chapter will allow for survivors to feel like they have support and are not alone.
“It’s just something that I’m passionate about, you know, being a survivor myself. I want people to know that they’re not alone. So, I think that’s why I wanted to get involved with starting a chapter here,” said Behrens.
Behrens also emphasized that the LWGRC is an important part of the chapter and is happy to see the success the center has had as a whole.
“They [LWGRC] are our sponsor. We’re allowed to hold meetings and the office. A lot of their interns are also on our board. So they definitely have played a really important part in all of this,” Behrens expressed. “I’m pretty happy to see the success of the center. Their success has led them to continue with their work.”
Ciara Dalton, senior psychology major with a minor in business is co-director with Behrens. Dalton believes that having the LWGRC on campus is a good resource for all students.
“I know that having [the LWGRC] has been a really important resource to everyone on campus,” said Dalton. “There are people who have gone in there just to hang out and do homework and have gone in there to get advice and relationships to go to different events and series where they can learn about various passion projects that the interns are working on.”
Dalton has been working on a project with the LWGRC that involves the creation of a survey that allows students to share their experiences with reporting to Title IX about sexual assault on campus. With this, she hopes to be able to create a committee that can educate people about the Title IX policies while also referring them to resource services if needed.
“I’m hoping to create a survivor support committee to just be a committee full of faculty or students to help support students after they report that way they have access to people that know about the Title IX policies,” Dalton said. “They can also refer them to resources and counseling services that may not be on campus but maybe virtual or not through our counseling center through people who specialize in helping people that have been sexually assaulted, abused or harassed.”
Dalton hopes that with the establishment of this chapter and other programs there will be a chance for both students and survivors to work towards creating change in regard to sexual assault.
“I’m hoping that with this chapter, we can get people to be a part of this advocacy and of this change that so many other colleges are doing,” Dalton said. “I think it’s important for us to also join the fight and be a part of it. And to also be a safe space for people whether you’re a survivor or not, and want to make a difference.”
To get involved with It’s On Us or get information about the chapter, contact their instagram page @itsonus_mcchapter.