The athletic department is taking a stand against sexual assault by educating its student athletes on the issue through the “It’s On Us” campaign.
“It’s On Us” is a nationwide campaign to end sexual assault. It includes a pledge to protect people from sexual assault, as well as being a solution rather than a problem.
“It’s all about trying to lead by demonstrating how important it is in a really authentic way,” said Athletic Director Ryan Byrne. “And trying to get people to connect to that in an authentic way.”
In January the athletic department held an orientation about the campaign with all student athletes and coaches attended. The orientation featured three speakers, two were City College faculty members and one was an officer from the UC Police Department. The speakers educated the audience about the legal changes of what is considered to be sexual assault.
Previously, the law only considered an incident to be sexual assault if the victim said no. The law now states that affirmative consent is required, meaning there must be a conscious and voluntary agreement by both parties.
Changes were also made to the student discipline procedures when it comes to sexual assault. Now a college can conduct its own investigation and discipline a student depending on whether the student is charged with assault.
These are major changes to the law, and Byrne believes that educating people about them is the top priority. The department has begun putting up posters on campus to spread awareness about the campaign.
“I know Ryan is really trying to push it,” said Kesler Johnson, freshman guard for the women’s basketball team. “I think it’s really cool that he cares so much about it. I think that what they’re doing can really catch our attention.”
One reason Byrne is pushing the student athletes to take part in the campaign is because he believes that athletes have a large voice on campus.
“In athletics we really feel like it’s important for us to take a leadership role,” he said. “And take initiative and set the tone with our student athlete population for the rest of the campus.”
“Its on Us” is mostly introduced at 4-year universities, but Byrne believes the campaign is equally important here at City College.
“It’s important for us to take part in that campaign because of the fact that the demographics are pretty much the same as any 4-year university,” he said.
This is the first time that the athletic department has participated in a campaign like this but Byrne is already planning to have another orientation in the fall.
“There’s no plan for it to end at this point,” Byrne said. “It’s a reality right now that needs to be talked about.”