Greek Life Asserts “It’s On Us”

University of New Haven Greek organizations took a stand against sexual violence and misconduct.

In an event held in Bucknall Theater on Thursday, Jan. 25, members of various social Greek organizations signed the “It’s On Us” pledge. By signing this pledge, these students are committing themselves to recognizing and identifying non-consensual sexual situations, intervening when possible, and creating a safe environment where “sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

“I came to know about the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign because it’s a national campaign,” said event coordinator Colleen Kazar. “More specifically the campaign as it related to Greek students was something that came out nationally at the beginning of this academic year and I figured it was something that we definitely needed to support in our community.”

Campus leaders and members of several Greek organizations lined up on stage in order to both sign the pledge on behalf of their entire organization, and to offer a few words expressing their support for the cause.

“We gather here today to join the ‘It’s On Us’ organization which allows Greek life to become one. One group with one common goal,” said USGA president Nicolette Angelli. “By standing up for what’s right, we are setting an expectation for what we will, and certainly what we will not, expect to accept on campus.”

“Sexual assault is a prominent issue on college campuses nationally. Too often do male and female victims never see the justice that they rightfully deserve,” said Kevin Jeffery, vice president of Lambda Alpha Upsilon. “If you hear conversations that promote negative sexual activity, shut it down. If you see someone in an uncomfortable situation, and they’re too afraid to leave it, shut it down. If you hear stories from assailants describing what they’ve done to victims, shut it down.”

Students and Greek life members were not the only people in attendance. Melissa Jennings, the university’s college advocate at the Milford Rape Crisis Center, watched and stood by in case attendees had any questions or needed someone to talk to due to the difficult subject matter of the event.

“Because of our work at the Rape Crisis Center I am only dedicated to the University of New Haven,” said Jennings. “But I know that other colleges and universities around the state are doing multiple events similar to this, getting Greek life and athletic programs involved in the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign.”

Jennings also provided important information concerning victims of sexual assault.

“There is no stereotypical victim. Anyone can be a victim of a sexual assault or domestic violence or a stalking situation,” said Jennings. “Sometimes we find that…victims don’t want to even talk about it initially. A lot of people will have a hard time calling themselves a victim, or a survivor, so we need them to understand that it’s okay if they don’t want to put a label on it. You don’t need to put a label on it.”

Through further education and understanding of survivors and their experiences, Jennings believes that not only can we prevent further accounts of sexual assault and violence, but also help survivors understand what happened to them because “sometimes they don’t know.”