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'It's On Us' Campaign Targets Assault Awareness

SOCORRO, N.M. November 2, 2015 – New Mexico Tech administrators, staff and students are encouraging everyone on campus to join their collegiate peers from around the country and take a stand against sexual assault and harassment.

Between Nov. 9-13, Tech will join other US universities in pledge drives and awareness programming as part of the national "It's On Us" campaign – a White House-sponsored initiative to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. The campaign encourages people to not be a bystander, but be a part of the solution in ending sexual violence.

As part of It's On Us' National Week of Action, Tech staff and students can stop by the Fidel Center atrium and pledge their support to the cause between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, Nov. 9-13. People can also pledge their support on-line at www.itsonus.org. Students who sign Tech's "It's On Us" poster at the Fidel pledge table will also receive a free T-shirt.

"An important part of Tech's new Strategic Plan is that we are a community of scholars," said Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming, Vice President of Student and University Relations. "This effort is one way that we show our support for each other and create a safe and welcoming environment on campus."

Randy Saavedra, Title IX Coordinator, said the It's On Us campaign is an important way to raise awareness among students and employees.

"The participation of the entire campus is important so people are thinking about prevention," he said. "If we are all take the pledge, we can all be more aware of stop sexual discrimination and assault and we can help stop these things from happening."

Tech's Residential Life staff launched the first local It's On Us campaign in April 2015. Assistant Director of Residential Life Lynn Arthur said her office was looking for new ways to raise awareness and create a safer environment for everyone. She said April brought in a great showing of students, faculty and staff who eagerly showed their support. She hopes even more students and employees take the pledge this fall.

"Sexual assault is very much a community issue," Arthur said. "Our campus as a whole is responsible for what we tolerate and what we do not. We want students to know how to respect and support one another. We want to make it clear that rape, or any form of sexual discrimination, is not OK here and there is support available to victims, including counseling and advocacy."

In preparation for the upcoming campaign, Arthur took part in a recent conference call with Vice President Joe Biden who thanked and encouraged more than 500 It's On Us campaign organizers from universities across the nation.

"Vice President Biden told us he believes the work on sexual violence awareness and prevention will be finished when there is not one single victim left," Arthur said. "This simply means all of our campuses still have a long way to go toward ensuring each and every member of our communities feels safe, respected, and included."

During the spring 2015 semester, Tech Resident Assistants created a short video for Sexual Assault Awareness Month to help inform students and employees about sexual violence. Many employees and students have viewed the videos series that is online. New students are required to watch the video as part of Tech's new training program to combat sexual harassment. Returning students and employees are encouraged to watch the video, which is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z5xALN5zyE. Additional videos from the nation campaign are available at http://itsonus.org/#videos.

– NMT –