The White House campaign launched to combat sexual assault, “It’s On Us,” will continue operating after President Barack Obama leaves office, ensuring its longevity no matter who wins the election.
It’s On Us started as a White House initiative in September 2014 after Obama convened a task force on campus sexual assault and issued a report, “Not Alone,” documenting sexual violence at colleges and universities and providing information on resources available to deal with it. The campaign nabbed major celebrities like Jon Hamm, Questlove, Matt McGorry, and Kerry Washington to appear in public service announcements and to speak on college campuses about sexual violence alongside administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden.
The campaign got a lift from Biden when he gave it a plug at the Oscars this year, just before a Lady Gaga performance featuring 50 sexual assault survivors onstage. It’s unclear whether Biden will remained involved with It’s On Us after the administration, though “he'll continue to stay involved in addressing violence against women and campus sexual assault,” said Meghan Dubyak, spokeswoman for Biden’s office.
Through early 2016, the campaign worked out of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and was part of the center's Generation Progress. In March, it moved a few blocks away to Civic Nation and is getting technical support from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The way we’re set up makes us pretty stable, regardless of who comes into the White House next,” Rebecca Kaplan, director of It’s On Us, told BuzzFeed News. Kaplan said the move is part of an effort to make the campaign a non-political, evergreen mission.
Civic Nation, founded in 2015, is nonpartisan but has connections to the Obama administration and his presidential campaigns. The nonprofit had already worked on the first lady’s Reach Higher campaign, encouraging every student to pursue higher education, and the Obama-backed Heads Up America community college initiative.
By the time It’s On Us arrived at Civic Nation this year, it had 95 national partners and had held events on more than 500 campuses, according to the campaign’s count.
In the past two years, much of the campaign’s work focused on bystander intervention and getting men to take action, a message Biden has also emphasized, as in June when he said men who don’t speak up to condemn misogyny and rape jokes are “accomplices.”
Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York City.
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