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Hofstra's It's On Us starts support group for student survivors of sexual assault

Hofstra's It's On Us starts support group for student survivors of sexual assault

In an empty conference room attached to the Office of Student Advocacy and Prevention Awareness, students and faculty of Hofstra’s It’s On Us committee convened for the last meeting of the semester, on Monday, Nov. 19, to discuss upcoming programs for the growing initiative combatting sexual violence.

Initially established under the administration of President Barack Obama in the fall of 2014, the It’s On Us campaign became a national movement committed to ending sexual assault that has since garnered widespread attention on college campuses.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, Hofstra commemorated its campus-wide launch of the campaign as more than 200 students, staff and faculty congregated in the David and Sondra S. Mack Student Center Atrium to take part in the pledge to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

In partnering with community organizations, campus facilitators of Hofstra’s It’s On Us program are progressively engaging in efforts to help discontinue the stigmas surrounding sexual violence as it pertains to students.

“It is vitally important that our young people recognize and understand that passive acceptance of the damaging myths and stigmas associated with sexual assault only serve to perpetuate the rape culture that continues to undermine efforts to curb sexual violence,” said D.J. Rosenbaum, the campus education coordinator from The Safe Center LI, following the Nov. 19 meeting. 

“Healing comes more easily when support and understanding surrounds us. Given the current trend of heightened student involvement and activism, campuses must respond proactively, above and beyond that which is technically mandated; to fail to do so puts not only survivors at risk of further trauma but puts the morale of the campus population at risk as well.”

A particular focus at the meeting was on the survivor support group that formally launched last week for student survivors of sexual assault on campus. Emma Kern, a senior double major in political science and anthropology, began formulating the group last fall alongside Claudia Andrade, the former director of student advocacy and prevention awareness.

“I realized that we had support groups for anxiety and substance abuse, and given my knowledge of It’s On Us and knowing survivors of sexual assault on campus and off campus, I realized that we needed a group where survivors could come together and support each other and talk about their experiences,” Kern said.

After receiving positive feedback from students who were interested in joining the group, Kern said the group became a place to openly speak about the current political climate and its impact on the conversation of sexual assault, as well as a safe environment for students to discuss any issues affecting their personal and social lives.

“We usually come in with no topic at all, there is one just in case, but normally it’s people talking about their experiences and their coping mechanisms and how they sort [out] their assault,” Kern said.

Other points during the meeting included upcoming It’s On Us campus events for the spring, such as a self-defense workshop, Planned Parenthood’s Plan Van for rapid STD testing and counseling and a table discussion on spring break safety.  

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