Editor’s note: The Big 12 student governments joined to start the #Big12Together movement to “unite in efforts around sexual assault prevention and survivor support.” The following guest editorial includes a video and a link at the end to more resources. No edits were made to the editorial, which was also published by each school’s student newspaper.
By Big 12 Student Governments
Dear Big 12 community,
After years of reading headlines across the country and hearing heartbreaking stories from our peers, Big 12 student governments decided it is time to unite in our efforts and speak boldly against sexual assault. Although there has been an increase of awareness and resources in recent years, it is evident that there is still a lot of work to do on our campuses. As we work for a better future, we hope this message is very clear to the survivors of sexual assault today – we believe you, it’s not your fault, and we are here to help.
This past November, Big 12 Student Government leaders attended a conference in Morgantown, West Virginia. Every year this conference is held at rotating campuses to come together and share ideas from our respective universities. During this year’s conference we received in-depth education from the West Virginia Title IX office, shared best practices offered at each university, and filmed a video to unite our platforms and voices to create a stronger message than what we can offer as individual campuses. Although our initial goal is to further the awareness of sexual assault on our campuses, we must not stop there. Our #Big12Together collaboration focuses on two things: sexual assault prevention and survivor support.
Although each Student Government has established priorities and agendas for this school year, the collaboration keeps us, as student leaders, accountable to prioritize sexual assault. Each university is offering programming this semester to bring tangible actions back to our campuses. They are as listed:
Baylor: Baylor University will be engaging our student body about these efforts through our social media platforms this week. During the It’s On Us month in April, we will be partnering with our It’s On Us Student Advisory Council to host relevant speakers and programming that communicates our efforts to prevent sexual assault from occurring and to show support for our victims. In addition to this, the Student Body President Lindsey Bacque, Internal Vice President Joel Polvado, and External Vice President Amye Dickerson will be advocating on these issues in the State Capitol.
Iowa State: Iowa State will be actively engaging campus and its students through social media awareness from the It’s On Us campaign. We will also be providing resources for students to access and learn about and most importantly the commitment of unwavering support for victims that Iowa State has. Our Student Body President, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs and our Director of Legislative Ambassadors will be advocating sexual assault prevention and awareness to state legislators for action and representation throughout Iowa.
Kansas University: Many groups on the University of Kansas campus will be collaborating on a variety of programs during the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Engaging New Voices,” so each week will focus on engaging specific types of students in conversations about sexual violence. Events will include tabling, Bringing in the Bystander sessions, flags on the Watson lawn, Take Back the Night, Brown Bag Drag, Dry Bar for Consent and many others.
Kansas State: Kansas State University will be hosting events during the week of February 13-18th in support of #Big12Together. Our Student Governing Association is collaborating with our university’s Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education (CARE) Office to host events that will educate students further on the resources our campus provides to support individuals in our community. Another event we will be promoting is an event hosted by our university during #Big12Together week that is providing students information on Title IX and the reporting process of sexual harassment and sexual violence cases. We will also be engaging in social media aspects of the week to promote our conference’s united front against sexual assault.
Oklahoma University: Here at Norman we offer resources through both our Gender and Equality Center (GEC) as well as our Title IX office. Our GEC offers many programs around Gender-based violence prevention including our one-hour interactive workshop titled Step in, Speak out. The workshop focuses on the power of bystander intervention and what we can do as a community. Our OU Advocates is a group of staff advocates on-call 24/7 to respond if any person in the OU community experiences stalking, relationship violence, harassment, or sexual assault. The phone number is 406-516-0013.
Oklahoma State University: Safety is a priority on the Oklahoma State University campus. During the #Big12Together week our Student Government Association will be engaging our student body through social media about the efforts put forth by this conference to ensure that the message of awareness and prevention of sexual assault violence will be heard. We will be promoting the events put on by the Title IX office on all of our social media outlets as well as in our senate, executive, and constituency meetings. Furthermore, we will be showcasing the It’s On Us collaboration video in the OSU Student Union.
Texas Christian University: We will host a week long launch of the It’s On Us campaign, incorporating all relevant stakeholders within the university including Title IX Office, campus life, campus police, counseling center, health center and wellness center; screening of The Hunting Ground; all day tabling day, Social Media Awareness of the It’s On Us campaign along with other resources for students to reach out to. Our Student Body President, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs and our Director of Legislative Ambassadors will be advocating sexual assault prevention and awareness to state legislators.
Texas Tech University: Safety remains one of our number one priorities for all student, faculty, and staff. In addition to providing year-round programming through the Student Government Association, the Office of the President, the (Risk Intervention and Safety Education) R.I.S.E. Office, the Fraternity and Sorority Life office, the Clay R. Warren Risk Management Series, and the Center for Campus Life, we will be participating in multiple social media campaigns, tabling events, and programs throughout the month of April, in coordination with multiple offices on campus. We would encourage all students to follow our social media pages at sga.ttu.edu, and follow our journey during sexual assault awareness month. Make sure to stop by our spring break survival pack pass out on March 6th, 7th, and 8th in the free speech area. Texas Tech University will be participating in the #Big12Together campaign and will be focused on this topic as the Student Body Officers visit lawmakers in Austin, TX and Washington, D.C. As West Texas hospitality holds true, we are all there for one another. We encourage students to share their story with us and visit our Dean of Students with any concerns. For more information on the Texas Tech #Big12Together initiative, visit our Facebook page!
The University of Texas: During the week of March 20, the IPV Prevention Coalition will be facilitating workshops at student organization meetings. The IPV Prevention Coalition was created by Student Body Vice President Binna Kim as a space for student organizations focused on this work to strategically collaborate hand-in-hand with school administrators as well as develop university policy. The Coalition is currently made of Voices Against Violence, Texas Blazers’ MenCanEnd Campaign, BeVocal Bystander Prevention, Steps for Survivors, Women’s Resource Agency, Not On My Campus, Texas Orange Jackets, and Student Government. The Coalition is advised by Voices Against Violence and the Title IX Office with the support of the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs. The purpose of this week of workshops is to dive into deeper conversations around WHY sexual assault happens on our campus. The week will kick-off with an open viewing of the Hunting Ground in front of the Tower on Monday, March 20 at 6 PM and close with the Steps for Survivors walk benefitting our Survivor’s Emergency Fund on Thursday.
West Virginia University: We will have a week of programming in coordination with our Title IX Office and the It’s On Us event schedule during the week of April 3rd – 8th. We will be hosting events such as tabling in our student union with support from our Peer Advocates program who will run the events the majority of the week. During the programming the Peer Advocates will promote education about confidential reporting and the Title IX office and the services they provide.
If you have any suggestions for what resources you want to see brought to your campus, please contact your Student Government directly. The more we invest in learning about sexual assault, we have become more aware of the complexities that come with this issue. We are eager to gain more understanding. Sexual assault impacts one-in-five collegiate women and one-in-sixteen collegiate men. These are our friends, our roommates, and our coworkers. These are our classmates and our teammates. These are our peers. We must do everything in our power to prevent these cases from occurring in the future and to uplift those who have survived something so tragic. This is much bigger than just one university and we cannot do this alone.
We are proud to be a part of a conference that is supportive of one another, regardless of the final number on the scoreboard. This #Big12Together collaboration is the start of a collective effort to communicate that we are truly better together. While we may be an athletic conference based on the idea of competition, we now have the opportunity to be more than that: we have the opportunity to be the voice of change for students across the country and show that working together is more effective, more efficient, and more impactful. We hope you will join us.
Resources offered on each campus can be found at bit.ly/Big12Together.