UMN launches campaign to raise awareness around sexual misconduct

The campaign is part of a larger initiative by President Eric Kaler and collaborates with student government.

by Theresa Mueller

The University of Minnesota rolled out a public awareness campaign geared toward students this month in an effort to prevent sexual misconduct.

On Sept. 11, the University launched the public awareness campaign as part of the President’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct. The University is looking to do more than create awareness in the It Ends Here campaign by encouraging students, faculty and staff to do their part in preventing sexual misconduct on campus. 

“The purpose of the campaign is to engage, educate and empower students to take responsibility to end sexual harassment and assault … and [create] the expectation that prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” said Ann Aronson, the University’s chief marketing officer and co-chair of campaign.

The development of the campaign has been ongoing since the spring of 2017, when University President Eric Kaler appointed University Relations and Boynton Health to plan the public awareness campaign for the initiative.

While accumulating information and feedback for the public awareness campaign, the planning committee realized their message to prevent sexual misconduct was similar to the Minnesota Student Association’s existing It Ends Here campaign launched in the spring of 2018, said Dave Golden, Boynton’s director of public health and communications and co-chair of the campaign.

To keep aspects of the campaign simple, the University collaborated with MSA and decided to adopt the It Ends Here name but shift the branding. 

“I think it is important that the president’s initiative is continuing the task of expanding the dialogue around sexual assault,” said Meara Cline, co-chair of MSA’s sexual assault task force. 

The public awareness campaign is one aspect of the initiative’s progression, Golden said. Committees working on the campaign are continuing to pursue training and policy changes promoting zero tolerance of sexual misconduct around campus.

Golden said an additional aspect of the campaign is to ensure student efforts are being made by the initiative to further combat sexual misconduct.

“We are all coming together to try and stop [sexual misconduct], and it starts with all of us individually,” Aronson said.

As the University’s It Ends Here campaign advances, members of MSA are collaborating with the University while continuing their own campaign. 

“Within our campaign, we are reaching out to various groups on campus to really spread this word and get people in there with unique perspectives,” Cline said. 

The task force is meant to represent people who do not have the means to push for the initiative, she said. 

Additionally, MSA’s Sexual Assault Task Force is continuing to work toward establishing policies such as the inclusion of sexual assault resources in University syllabuses. 

“I want [students] to feel empowered to share their truth and their stories, and feel that this is a campus that listens and cares about their experiences,” Cline said.