Senior Joins National Panel Aiming to End Sexual Assault on Campus

Kaylie Hartman

UT Dallas psychology senior Kaylie Hartman will serve on a student advisory committee for It's On Us.

UT Dallas psychology senior Kaylie Hartman is one of 28 students selected nationwide — and the only one from Texas — to serve on a student advisory committee for a national initiative that empowers students to help end sexual assault on campuses.

Hartman will be a liaison between the It’s On Us initiative and college students at UT Dallas and other participating universities in Texas.

The initiative aims to shift the way students think about sexual assault — including what is and is not consent — by encouraging their peers to see it as their responsibility to prevent it. That means identifying and intervening in situations where sexual assault may occur.

“One of the things that is so cool about this is the level of positivity, and that it empowers students to be part of the solution,” said Hartman, a Terry Scholar. “We may not feel it is a big problem on our campus but it is, in fact, an issue that affects every university and every community, including ours, and every student can take an active role to prevent it.

“It may not be a big issue on campus here, but we are able to engage our students to take it on themselves and spread the word elsewhere.”

It’s On Us was launched in fall 2014 by the Center for American Progress, in partnership with the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.

It’s On Us partners include the NCAA, Snapchat, College Humor and national fraternity and sorority organizations. This year, the initiative added a team dedicated to working with students at military academies.

Changing Campus Culture

  • Talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault.
  • Don't just be a bystander — if you see something, intervene in any way you can.
  • Be direct. Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they're OK.
  • Get someone to help you if you see something — enlist a friend, RA or host to help step in.
  • Keep an eye on someone who has had too much to drink.
  • If you see someone who is too intoxicated to consent, ask their friends to help them leave safely.
  • Be aware if someone is trying to intoxicate, isolate or corner someone else.
  • Get in the way by creating a distraction, drawing attention to the situation or separating them.
  • Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it's rape.
  • Never blame the victim.

— From the It's On Us initiative

As part of the awareness campaign, It’s On Us asks students to sign a pledge that reads: “I pledge to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

Hartman is a peer health educator in the Student Wellness Center, where she works to promote the mental, physical and emotional health of students. She said the national initiative dovetails with a campus program begun by the center two years ago.

Comet Voice, also launched in fall 2014, encourages students to practice bystander intervention in defusing harmful situations such as sexual assault, high-risk drinking, suicidal threats and hazing. Comet Voice partners with other groups on campus that include the Title IX coordinator, Student Counseling Center and the Galerstein Women’s Center.

The initial push for student involvement happens in the fall, when many students are in a brand-new environment, away from home, and may not have built up a support system or have people they can confide in yet. Pledge drives at UT Dallas have garnered more than 1,000 signatures each year.

“It’s always been a student-initiated effort here,” said Kacey Sebeniecher, assistant director of the Student Wellness Center. “We are greatly looking forward to expanding the program under Kaylie’s leadership. She is very good at communicating with all kinds of students. She’s very empathic, dedicated and hardworking — just a great all-around student.”

Hartman said it’s important for colleges and universities to mobilize their entire campus because sexual assault is so common and has such a long-ranging negative effect.

“It impacts so many different people — one in five women, and 1 in 16 men — that you can’t help but think how many of your friends have experienced this. And it’s not just the students, it’s their family and friends who are affected, too,” Hartman said.

“The media is consumed with portraying sexual assault and objectification of women as normal. We are seeking to increase bystander intervention, define consent and create an environment in which sexual assault is not tolerated.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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