Students should engage with campus opportunities to ensure that they remain available
This week is the Student Government Association’s “It’s on Us” event, which is a part of the “Week of Action.” The idea of the event is to bring in speakers, movies and presentations to highlight the ongoing issue of sexual assault and violence on college campuses. The event attempts to overcome stigmas about sexual assault that prevent people from reporting incidents. It also provides outlets for victims to receive counseling and support, and it offers opportunities to learn about signs and prevention methods.
In the past, the It’s on Us events have been a big deal at UW-River Falls. There are always lots of speakers and free giveaways involving t-shirts and food. There is also an extensive outreach campaign put on by SGA that draws a massive turnout of students to attend the event.
This year, funding for the event has been cut back significantly. In order to keep under budget, more focus has been put on the outlets available through campus. The speakers scheduled to talk are volunteers from the university, rather than paid presenters from outside of campus.
The effect has been that the It’s on Us campaign hasn’t been as apparent on campus. With fewer free giveaways and fewer big events to draw in crowds, It’s on Us risks being overlooked in this busy time of the semester.
The danger here is that It’s on Us could potentially fade into nonexistence if attendance numbers begin trending downward. Fewer attendees would prompt future SGAs to allocate fewer funds to the event, which would lead to a cycle of further dropping attendance and budget cuts as time wears on.
Students need to take it upon themselves to support this cause and to be as involved as they can be in this year’s schedule. Free food and t-shirts should not be the defining factors for attendance. The presenters, though fewer, still have important messages for students on recognizing sexual assault and how to prevent it. Resources for victims will also be highlighted throughout the week.
This issue is not limited to the It’s on Us campaign. There are countless opportunities on campus for students to listen to lectures or attend plays and concerts. These events offer a chance to expand one’s horizons and to step outside of comfort zones. These are events that many people outside of campus pay money to attend, and we should be taking advantage of them while they are being offered to us for free.
If no one attends them, however, there’s a chance that these opportunities will go away. If the university sees a decline in interest, it may be inclined to cut these events when funds get tight. There will be less of a variety of speakers to listen to, and many new chances to learn and gain perspective will be lost.
It is in the best interest of students to pay attention to the events that are almost constantly going on around campus. It’s a chance to learn something new and perceive issues in a way we might never have considered before. This is one of the reasons people attend universities, and it should not be something that falls by the wayside.