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Sexual assaults on college campuses the focus of new national campaign

Sep 19, 2014

There’s a new national push to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama says campus sexual assault is "an affront to our basic humanity." The president  unveiled a new campaign to change the way people think about campus sexual assault.

A new public service announcement features Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other familiar faces telling viewers they have a responsibility to stop sexual assault.

The campaign encourages people on campus to make sure friends are safe and to intervene before an assault happens.

Jon Hamm of "Mad Men," Kerry Washington of "Scandal," and NBA all-star Kevin Love are some of the familiar faces participating in the "It's On Us" campaign.

Obama touted the campaign weeks before a midterm election in which Democrats are counting on a strong turnout by female voters.

“Sexual violence is not met with indifference on our campus,” says Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “This is our challenge and a problem that requires our intervention. We cannot be passive observers.”

MSU launched its own “No Excuse for Sexual Assault” campaign in January 2013. The campaign relies heavily on education.

Alex Haddad is a peer educator in Michigan State University’s Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention program. He says many of the incoming college freshmen he works with, especially the male students, don’t understand the problem.

“Educating people on the issue is, as far as I can think of, the best tool that we have to combat this issue,” says Haddad. He adds it’s important for college men to realize it’s not enough to not be an abuser themselves.They also should also be ready to intervene if they see it happening.