The “It’s on Us” campaign recently collaborated with College Humor to release a public service announcement about sexual assault on college campuses. The PSA, playing off the statistic, “one in five women will be sexually assaulted by the time they finish college,” asks: What if bears killed one in five people? The video offers a light look at a heavy topic.
The short video shows five men drinking beers in a garage when a bear is discovered in the house. One of the friends, played by actor Jake Johnson, attempts to dismiss his friends’ fear of being attacked by suggesting they are overreacting.
Throughout the video, as he attempts to alleviate his friends’ worries, Johnson draws comparisons between oft-cited statistics and comments regarding sexual assault with the looming bear in the side room. Such statements include: “but you know, it’s not going to eat all of us, it’s only going to eat like one in five,” “bears will be bears” and “what happens between you guys and the bear is none of my business.”
Despite Johnson’s continuous attempts to explain why the bear is not a problem, his friends remain unconvinced. The bear then breaks into the garage, ready to attack the five men. A terrified Johnson shouts, “I don’t want to deal with this problem!” before the video commands the viewer to, “do something about it,” and take the pledge at itsonus.org.
While any means of raising awareness of this epidemic is excellent and much needed, the announcement fails to encompass the gravity of the issue. The comedic tone of the video makes it enjoyable to watch, and the video has amassed over one million views. However, the tone seems dismissive, at times, of the complexities inherent to the issue of sexual assault. The video provides only a surface level public service announcement.
Yet, despite its shortcomings, College Humor’s video is a good start. A single video requesting that its viewers sign an online petition could never completely solve the problem of sexual assault, but it can still start a discussion.
It is laudable to sign a pledge stating that sexual assault is unacceptable. But, it is much more powerful to continue the dialogue “It’s On Us” has started by actively opposing the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses.
It is up to you and I to create a culture where sexual assault is unacceptable. The discussion around the issue is an important first step, but what is more important is living in accordance with the steps and actions the discussion exhorts. It is vital to support your peers, look out for dangerous situations and take an active role in opposing assault.
While this seems simple, college campuses are not a sexually safe environment. No statistic, no matter how low, will be acceptable until that statistic reports that zero students in college are sexually assaulted.
It is on us to instill a culture that creates an environment on campus in which all students are able to safely pursue academic excellence while growing and developing in and out of the classroom – without fear of sexual assault.
“It’s On Us” can start the dialogue, but we must continue that dialogue until all students are safe on college campuses. So watch the video and sign the pledge, but also work tirelessly to eliminate the current culture we live in. Do something about it.
Joseph Miller ’19 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Colts Neck, N.J. He majors in economics and political science.