'It's on Us' to hold stalking awareness event

Discussion will empower students to recognize, report stalking behavior

By Megan Webster | 1/18/17 9:46pm

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GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Samantha Przybylski (center) holds a sign behind the "It's On Us" social media stand on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 inside the Kirhof Center.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

According to the Violence Prevention and Action Center, one in six women and one in 19 men in the United States have experienced stalking in their lifetime. Not only that, but individuals 18 to 24 years old—the typical age range for college students—experience the highest rate of stalking. These statistics, along with the fact that January is National Stalking Awareness Month, are what drive the It’s on Us campaign to take action and spread awareness of this issue.

Grand Valley State University’s chapter of the It’s on Us campaign will host a 'Stalking Awareness' event Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room. The event will include information on identifying the signs of stalking, getting help and using the resources available on campus and in the community.

Elizabeth Schoedel, a graduate assistant in GVSU’s Women’s Center, said the goal of the event is to empower students "to know what is stalking, know their resources and to feel empowered that stalking behavior is not tolerated, especially if it makes you feel unsafe.”

Through scenarios and dialogue, the event will follow a theme of the relationship between social media and stalking. Simultaneously, there will be an incorporation of contemporary issues, such as music and media, in order to clarify the difference between the stereotypical movie stalker and a stalker in real life. There will also be a discussion about examining the relationship between dating, domestic violence and stalking.

“People talk a lot about sexual assault,” Schoedel said. “People talk a lot about dating and domestic violence. Stalking is fairly prevalent, but maybe we don’t have the terminology for it.”

Malayna Hasmanis, student senate vice president for educational affairs, said the event would challenge people’s ideas about stalking.

“This event is an amazing opportunity for people to be able to see beyond the social norms of an issue that impacts a lot more relationships than we might think,” she said. “It’s a great way to challenge our thoughts and move forward.”

Anyone, regardless of sex or gender, can be affected by stalking. Because of this, the It’s on Us event is an opportunity for anyone to come and learn more about stalking and the resources GVSU and the surrounding community have to offer.

The It’s on Us campaign was initiated as part of President Barack Obama’s mission to address campus violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The campaign contains a pledge for personal commitment to help keep people safe from sexual assault and a promise to not be a passive bystander to the problem but to be a part of the solution. The core of the campaign is to promote the concept that it’s everyone’s responsibility to become more educated and intervene to end rape culture.

The “Stalking Awareness” event is LIB 100/201 approved. Interested individuals can contact the GVSU Women’s Center for more information or visit www.gvsu.edu/itsonus or itsonus.org to learn more about the campaign.

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