Suzanne Cayer, a physiology and neurobiology major, joined It’s On Us in 2015. The goal of the organization is to empower university students to change the climate around sexual assault, Cayer said.
She's now encouraging others to join the movement and work to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
“This is such an important movement, because sexual assault is at epidemic levels… There are many different ways that we’re going to create change, and the first is through education,” Cayer said.
She said that as part of the It’s On Us movement, she will raise awareness, teach about consent and work on how to support survivors. “All of this starts with having conversations about sexual assault on our campuses and empowering students to be part of the movement.”
Cayer herself is a survivor of two rapes and domestic violence and said she wants to turn those experiences into something inspiring. She got involved with sexual assault prevention work during her freshman year at UConn with the organization Revolution Against Rape.
“Working with other activists was so inspiring, and I wanted to do this work on a national level, so I applied to be part of the Student Advisory Committee for the campaign. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to have a leadership role in this movement.”
UConn joined the It’s On Us campaign in 2014, but Cayer hopes that more people will hear about the movement and become involved.
In a Sept. 26, 2014 email, UConn president Susan Herbst encouraged students to take the organizations pledge.
“I'm looking forward to seeing the administration more involved in the campaign this year. I’m optimistic about working with administrators about improving education about sexual and domestic violence on our campus,” Cayer said.
Cayer said that she has seen change on campus over the past few years, but there is still more to be done.
“Consent education is so important because it's taught so late… It's also important to teach everyone how to support a survivor and how to help someone after an assault,” Cayer said. “Sexual violence can take a while to process, and the survivor may not want to report, and that's okay. We want to create a community that supports survivors, and I'm optimistic that we will see progress this year.”
Cayer commended the resources available to students, including the Sexual Assault Crisis Counselors from the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Assault, who can help survivors navigate the process of reporting and act as advocates.
“We have over 30,000 students at UConn: starting with changing our community can really drastically change the climate for future students and future generations,” Cayer said. “With some productive conversations, we can work to create a supportive, safer and more inclusive community for all of us.”
Megan Krementowski is associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.