It’s On Us, other events create safe campus culture


by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

INDIANOLA, Iowa — A group of students performed the second annual It’s On Us event in Pote Theatre Aug. 28 to localize events of sexual misconduct to Simpson’s campus.

The performance was created by a group of students called the Agents of Change during a May Term class in 2015. The goal was to educate new students on the realities of sexual misconduct on Simpson’s campus.

SARA President Hallen Phung said It’s On Us is an improvement from the former event, He Said, She Said.

“I think that because students are acting these, it hits a little closer to home,” Phung said. “The performance is tailored to Simpson College, so it’s your peers acting out scenes that you will see, like at Stand Around or at parties.

“Instead of someone from a removed company coming in to tell you something, it’s your peers standing up and being like, ‘This is important to us. This is important to our campus,’ so I think it speaks volumes.”

Agent of Change Braeden Ingersoll said when they wrote the script, they wanted to portray scenes that were realistic to Simpson’s campus.

“We try to figure out what situations could happen on our campus,” Ingersoll said. “So we go to the stalking scene and then the scene with the weight room where it’s like the girl stretching and the guy taking a photo of her, and that is based off of a real situation that we discussed in that class.”

Professor of Theatre Jennifer Nostrala said it is harder to make jokes when the people who are performing it are in your community.

“We had full houses, so the fact that the Greek houses are coming over and watching it with the first-year students send out an entirely different message” Nostrala said. “When it was the thing that first-year students had to do, when it was back to the He Said, She Said.”

Another It’s On Us May Term class will be held this year to create a new performance.

“We’ll just start at the beginning, so we’ll do the Agents of Change class again,” Nostrala said. “It’s open to anyone on campus who’s interested. It’s a collaborative leadership class, and we’ll start from scratch.”

Ingersoll said he had a positive experience with the class.

“I encourage that anybody (who) thinks this is an issue on campus or thinks that this is an issue they want to have an impact on should join the May Term class,” Ingersoll said.

Earlier this year Title IX Coordinator Rich Ramos released a report saying there were 20 reports of sexual misconduct on campus within the past year, a significant increase from previous years.

“I think if people go back and look at our numbers from two or three years ago and see there’re one or two reported incidents, it must mean the campus is getting less safe when in reality, I think that these instances were probably happening before, and it’s just that people are just reporting them,” Ramos said.

Phung said it’s events like this that are creating a culture where students feel safe to report.

“I think that sexual assault is such a taboo subject that, a lot of the times, we think it just happens behind an alley, in a bush, on some big campus,” Phung said. “And I think when we, as such a small school, do a performance like this, and we have SARAs coming to classes to talk about sexual assault on our campus and our policies, I think it makes students feel like they’re supported. I think the increase of reporting is correlated.”

Phung said the It’s On Us performance is only the beginning of the conversation.

“(The performance) is just to open the door so we can openly and honestly talk about sexual assault,” she said. “I think that this conversation needs to continue throughout the year. I don’t think it would be benefitting anyone if we just stopped there.”

To get more information on reporting or to talk about any instances of sexual misconduct, contact SARA’s 24/7 hotline at (515) 330-6392 via text message or call.