MSU students, several student organizations and others gathered in the Duffy Daugherty Football Building on Friday to support survivors of sexual assault through the It’s On Us Day of Action event.
Those who attended made a human teal ribbon and interacted with several organizations that aim to combat sexual assault.
Leah Davidson, the volunteer coordinator for End Violent Encounters, or EVE, said she wanted to attend the event in order to spread more information about the programs EVE offers.
“We’ve always had a strong focus on sexual assault and we knew it was something we wanted to get involved with,” she said. “We just wanted to show that it’s on us, too, and we want to help support that message.”
Davidson said EVE is located in Lansing and also has an Eaton County Sexual Assault Center.
“We are a domestic violence and sexual assault resource center and shelter,” Davidson said. “We do a variety of different things from advocacy, counseling, the personal protection orders, community outreach. A lot of our stuff is survivor-centered.”
Davidson said she thinks it’s important for everyone in the community to get involved in events such as the It’s On Us event.
“Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted,” she said. “Those numbers are staggering, so the more people we get involved in things like this, the more awareness we can build.”
Amanda McCafferty, one of the students who created the “Go Teal” movement on MSU’s campus, said she thought the event was “amazing.”
“You could just sense how powerful it was and everyone had the moment of silence,” she said. “I closed my eyes and you could just feel the amount of emotion in the room, and I think that speaks very well to the Spartan community.”
McCafferty, a creative advertising senior at MSU, formed the Go Teal movement with Larraine Fu, Carlie Wirebaugh, Tianyi Xie and MSU alumna Yi Rong, also creative advertising students.
McCafferty said they came up with the phrase “go green, go white, go teal” about two or three months ago. Since then, the group’s impact has been seen all over MSU’s campus.
“Our movement kind of started after an idea to make something positive out of what has happened on MSU’s campus, create a movement,” she said.
McCafferty said they started to hang “speak up” posters around campus, ask people to join their movement, create social media pages and put up teal ribbon posters.
“They (the posters) had ribbon on them, so 156 ribbons for the 156 women that came forward during the Larry Nassar (sentencing),” she said. “So, the intent here was for people to walk up, you know, take a ribbon and they’re unveiling that name, that survivor and kind of acknowledging their strength.”
Since then, the group has continued to show support of survivors of sexual assault by placing teal light bulbs on people’s porches, putting on events and partnering with other organizations.
"Our hope is in the future that we can get all downtown East Lansing bars certified by BASA, which is Bartenders Against Sexual Assault,” she said. “We’re really big into bystander intervention, so, you know, stopping the assault before it happens.”
Although the movement was created in light of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, McCafferty said it has turned into something even bigger than that.
“It’s not just about, you know, what’s happened at Michigan State. It’s about the bigger picture here of stopping assaults and, you know, we praise the strength of these women that came forward, but they should never have to come forward,” she said. “We want to stop that before it even happens.”
She said members of the group are still shocked by the amount of positive feedback they have received from the campaign.
“As students, we felt how low the morale was and people no longer wanted to wear their green and white on campus,” she said. “It was almost like you felt this different sense of loss, and we wanted to kind of regain that pride of being a Spartan.”
McCafferty said anyone can be supportive of sexual assault survivors and intervene to prevent an assault from happening.
She said she hopes the movement will live on.
“Wear ribbon, show your support,” she said. “In future terms, we’re all graduating, you know. So, we want this campaign, this movement, to stick around. We don’t want it to be something that only happens in light of what happened. We want it to be something that stays on campus.”
Claire Fredin, the campus organizer for MSU’s official It’s On Us student group, said she was really happy with the event turnout, primarily from MSU students and MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio.
“It really shows that there’s a group that is moving towards changing on campus,” she said. “It also shows that it’s a pretty serious issue.”
Fredin said she thinks the human teal ribbon was a great way to encourage people to attend the It’s On Us event.
"I really thought that it was such a great idea,” she said. “It’s a way to make people think about their actions as they’re moving into this teal ribbon and really what the ribbon means in itself and it’s, you know, just a way for people to be active.”
Fredin said the It’s On Us student group at MSU started this past fall as a way to give sexual assault survivors a voice.
“We are part of the national organization, so we are constantly communicating with the people in Washington D.C. and, you know, just trying to change the campus climate through preaching about bystander intervention and also, you know, creating a culture of survivor support,” she said.
Since the Nassar cases, Fredin said the group hasn’t necessarily increased their efforts, but members knew it was time to have their voices heard.
“We knew that it was a huge problem on campus, we have to get out there while we can because people are paying attention,” she said. “Unfortunately, before this, there was not enough effort put into the fall weeks of action and the spring week of action, and just in general in sexual assault awareness on campus.”