VP Chavez helps lead It’s On Us campaign

By Jackie Nevarez

Raquel Chavez, Student Association vice president, is spearheading a sexual assault prevention campaign using her research and experience in the area.

The SA announced its involvement with It’s On Us, a presidential task force that aims to work with universities to prevent sexual assault, in a Wednesday news release. SA is one of more than 200 student leader groups the White House has partnered with for the national campaign.

A study abroad visit to the Netherlands where Chavez studied justice in international courts triggered her interest in international and public interest law. After considering her involvement with groups such as the presidential task force to prevent sexual assault and the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, she accepted SA President Joe Frascello’s invitation to help lead the It’s On Us campaign.

“I want to make sure that these people that have messed up … destroyed so many futures get what they deserve,” Chavez said. “Just fight for those who don’t have a voice anymore.”

Chavez’s interest in the campaign also stems from a course she took where she and a group of students investigated the underreporting of sexual assault on campus, hypothesizing that students may underreport because of their unawareness of how to report, where to report and knowledge of what constitutes sexual assault.

“We surveyed 245 students, and of those 245 only one person knew where to go [to seek help for sexual assault victims] and that was alarming,” Chavez said. “That’s something that needs to be taken care of.”

The group’s research concluded with five recommendations to Student Affairs and Enrollment Management: creating a 24-hour hotline for victims of sexual assault, a location change for Victim Advocacy Services, a staff expansion for Victim Advocacy Services, a direct path to Victim Advocacy Services for sexual assault reports and bystander training and education in orientation sessions and UNIV 101/201 courses.

As for what students could do to help out the campaign, Chavez said signing the pledge at itsonus.org/#pledge is a way to start, but conversation must also occur.

“Talk to your friends about it,” Chavez said. “It is a big issue and I hope students really do recognize how big of a deal this is becoming. It’s not just a thing at NIU, it’s a thing all across the nation.”