April 11, 2017
Photo by Nikole Kost | The Globe
Point Park University posted an “It’s On Us” campaign video on its Facebook page March 30 to raise awareness for sexual violence on college campuses, an issue the university is focused on addressing.
Cinema students Mina Hoffman, Olivia Shipman, Taylor Dolniak, Erin Chaballa, Kelsey Myers and Shelby Miller have been working on the project since the start of the semester.
“We reached out to faculty and students of the university to read [on screen] a letter written by a Point Park student who witnessed their friend be sexually assaulted and didn’t step in,” Hoffman said. “The great thing about the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign is that it is focused on bystanders stepping in, which can sometimes be a gray area.”
Students and faculty agreed to participate in reading the letter and signing a pledge to vow to step in if a friend or stranger is facing a situation that may lead to sexual assault. Anna Goforth, a senior biology major, said that raising awareness is not just important in stopping it from happening, but also helping those who have survived it.
“Knowing someone who went through this — it hits home,” Goforth said. “This was someone’s friend, son or daughter. Anyone who is a survivor has people who love and care about them.”
Hoffman was approached to take on the public service announcement by her advisor Cara Friez, an assistant professor in the cinema arts department. Hoffman jumped on the opportunity to be involved in an issue that students on campus have dealt with firsthand.
“As an RE (Resident Educator) on campus, I’ve worked with survivors of sexual assault,” Hoffman said. “I know that anyone who has gone through this needs to be supported and appreciated.”
After assembling a small group to take on a project they were all passionate about, the students worked all semester shooting, assembling and editing footage.
“We reached out to staff, residence life and student leaders who we knew cared about the issue,” Hoffman said. “We had a great number of responses.”
Davion Heron, a former RE and sophomore musical theatre major, said he looked forward to being a part of the project.
“Too often we let things slide because we don’t want to spoil the fun or there is a misunderstanding under the influence,” Heron said. “I think it’s a great idea to have a buddy system when you go out and set guidelines before you leave on when it may be necessary to step in.”
Hannah Hepler, a junior psychology major, said she had never heard of the campaign before but thought it was a refreshing perspective and inspiring to be a part of.
“No matter how scary it may be, it is our duty as human beings to protect one another,” Hepler said. “It’s our obligation to not to let bad things happen to someone.”
Hoffman said that by knowing the signs of when to step in, by watching and creating videos, having conversations and being more aware, students can tackle this issue once and for all.
“If you just have just an inkling that something is wrong, even if you don’t know them, check in and say ‘Are you okay?’” Hoffman said. “Our generation doesn’t always go out on a limb to help people, but if someone needs it, help them.”
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