President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched "It's On Us" Friday, a public awareness campaign aimed at ending sexual assault on college campuses. The White House enlisted the help of celebrities to help spotlight the growing national problem.
“It’s on us to stop sexual assault,” “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm says in the beginning of the 32-second clip. “To get in the way before it happens,” continues “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington. Rapper Common, Randy, Questlove, Connie Britton and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love are other big names who add their voices to speak out against sexual assault.
“Our purpose here is to meet people where they are,” said White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in an interview this week. “We’re extremely strategic in how we engage and deploy validators, and we’re very fortunate that people who have tremendous followings across the country are willing to be very effective messengers.”
The public service announcement looks like a step in the right direction, and it is significant that male celebrities took part in the campaign as well as women. “I certainly am in support of men being in support of a sexual prevention movement," RuthAnn Koenick, director of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance at Rutgers University, told International Business Times. "I think that men speak to other men in a way that’s very different than I can speak to them. Anything that gets people talking about sexual assault and taking a sense of community responsibility... is positive.”
An analysis by the Washington Post found that 55 percent of colleges and universities with 1,000 or more students reported at least one forcible sex offense on campus in 2012. Sex offenses include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, forcible fondling and sexual assault with an object.
This is not the first time the White House has enlisted celebrities to call attention to a national issue. Last year, first lady Michelle Obama made history by releasing a hip-hop-inspired album about health. Obama reached out to popular artists such as Jordin Sparks and Doug E. Fresh to help promote her “Let’s Move” campaign.
"Let's Move" launched in 2009 as an "ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and unveiled a nationwide campaign," according to a White House press release.
Superstar Beyoncé teamed up with Mrs. Obama in 2011 to promote the cause, with a music video showing her dancing in a school cafeteria with a group of children as a form of working out. Notable celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Scarlett Johansson have also lent a hand to help solve the problem of obesity in America.