The kick-off officially began with the release of the USNA “It's On Us” video, featuring midshipmen, faculty and staff voicing their commitment to the campaign and a banner-signing ceremony for everyone to take the pledge.
“The mission and goal of this week is to get USNA to recognize that sexual assault is a problem, which I'm sure we all know,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Shaq Keels, “It's On Us” student advisor. “I want society to see that we stand up for that which is right. I want to get 100 percent of the brigade to pledge.”
“It's On Us” is a White House campaign that was launched last year by the president and vice president. It aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault and to foster an environment where sexual assault isn't tolerated and survivors are supported.
Shortly after the kick-off, Vice President Joe Biden visited the academy to host a round table discussion on campus sexual assault with select midshipmen, faculty and staff.
“The example you set has been more resonant than any other group of college students in all of America,” said Biden. “You're stepping up. Your class, this faculty have taken on and pointed out that there is a problem in the military and the Navy. You have addressed it head on and you’re making great progress.”
“There will also be a social media takeover by the Brigade using hashtag #ItsOnUs and #GotConsent,” said Keels. “The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Guidance, Understanding, Information, Direction & Education (SAPR GUIDE) program will give a bystander workshop on bystander intervention, and the company officers and senior enlisted advisors will hold in-company sessions about how the training here will transfer to the fleet.”
The midshipmen’s involvement in the “It’s On Us” campaign is a way to help the Navy’s future leaders create and foster a positive environment where every service member feels safe.
“To me sexual assault is a cancer,” said Keels. “And with the programs we have here and the ‘It's On Us’ campaign, we are given the cure through the lessons, the tools, and the resources we need to help eliminate sexual assault. It's up to us to distribute this cure to others around us.”