“Every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.”
This dark statistic, among others which were included in the Wootton IT’S ON US video, was heard through hundreds of students computers on the night of Nov. 2 as it was aired through various social media sites.
The video advertised the Wootton IT’S ON US Signing Day event, organized by senior Jules Jacobs, that took place on Nov. 3. The event was held in order to cast light on an important issue that has faced multiple generations — sexual assault. The event educated students about how to prevent it, how to be supportive of those who have been sexually assaulted and further encouraged them to take action with that information, spreading the word about the dangers of rape and creating a change within their communities.
The IT’S ON US campaign was started in 2014 by Vice President Joe Biden, and supported by Barack Obama, to address an issue that Biden felt did not get enough acknowledgment. In creating this campaign, it was his goal to force conversation around the once sheltered issue of sexual assault.
The campaign was met with success. Since 2014, hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation have taken part in the movement to spread the word and take preventative measures.
Recently, with such a large support base in the college-realm, the campaign decided to make the move to appeal to high school students as its next step. Jacobs applied and was chosen as the student head of the IT’S ON US high school committee, where he was put in charge of advocating for change within high school communities.
“Sexual assault is an issue that is perpetrated in high schools, colleges and universities throughout the country let alone the world. If we can educate ourselves now, not only can we help high school survivors of sexual assault but we can effectively create a new generation of college students more adept at facing and ending this issue,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs decided that the most effective way to impact a large audience in this community was to hold an event, which he titled Signing Day. With weeks of planning, he worked to print fliers, make posters, align guest speakers and even manage to score free pizza and giveaways at the event, courtesy of the Booster Club.
Jacobs and the Wootton Signing Day Committee, a group of about 10 seniors who helped Jacobs plan the event and spread the word, spent their lunches at a table in the Commons for the entire week leading up to the big signing day event. They promoted it by encouraging students to sign a large banner that read “I PLEDGE.” By signing the banner, it would signify that the student would promise to do everything in their power to prevent sexual assault.
By the time 7 p.m. rolled around on Nov. 3, about 200 students and 80 parents had showed up at the gates of the turf stadium in order to take part.
During the first activity, Jacobs read statistics about sexual assault and students had to guess the correct percentage of people who were affected. “It was very surprising to me to hear that one in five women are sexually assaulted by the end of college,” sophomore Maddie Grainger said. “It scared me and definitely made me want to do something about it.”
Students then filed into the bleachers to listen to a series of guest speakers, ranging from D.C. 101’s Roche, to Kyle Lierman (the associate director of public engagement from the White House) and Alex Zeitz-Motzkin (the deputy director of IT’S ON US).
The event closed with students taking out their phones and going to itsonus.org in order to add their name to the list of students who have voiced their support for the campaign’s work on a national scale.
With so many students who now have a heightened level of awareness when it comes to sexual assault and with so many held accountable by the national pledge, Jacobs hopes that he has influenced teens’ actions towards others.