“I believe that if we truly commitment ourselves, we will do nothing short of changing the culture on how women and girls are treated on college campuses” — Vice
President Joe Biden
Today, I had the opportunity to attend the ‘Its On Us Champions of Change’ event with my colleague, Lindsay McDaniel Mapp, on behalf of CALCASA/PreventConnect. Earlier this month, ten students were recognized as “leaders who mobilize others to change the culture around sexual assault and dating violence and create systemic changes in college campus communities.” Two of these students hail from universities in California – Meghan Yap from University of California, San Diego and Celene Lopez from Humboldt State University.
Meghan’s focus has been on improving the response to survivors on campus and strengthening institutional responses to sexual violence through research and activism. She conducted a comparative analysis of the university policies and practices with the state and national recommendations and developed a set of policy and best practice recommendations that she took to administrators and resource centers on campus.
Celene has been working to implement CHECK IT, a program that was developed in partnership with student activists at Humboldt State University and the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, a CALCASA member agency. This innovative program “provides the campus community with tools for intervening in ways that are realistic and match people’s unique personalities, identities, and communication styles.”
At the event, two panels were facilitated: ending rape culture and engaging men and all communities in the conversation about sexual assault prevention and intervention. A personal highlight was a performance from the Claremont Colleges’ ‘The After School Specials!’ a capella group, who performed Lady Gaga’s hit from The Hunting Ground, ‘If It Happened to You’, and the recent winners of the ‘Til It Happens to You: Sing for Survivors a cappella contest’. Lastly, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the group of students and partner organizations. Vice President Biden recognized each champion for their distinct work on their respective campuses and the collective impact they have had working to change culture on college campuses.
Today was a truly special opportunity and one that reminded me that the work that we do has a ripple effect. It is inspiring to see the next generation of activists leading the way on their campuses and in their communities. Together, we can end sexual violence.