CMCer is one of 28 students nationwide chosen to help lead the fight against sexual assault on campus.
Lindsay Burton ’19 has been named to the It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee for 2016-17. She is one of 28 students from U.S. colleges and military academies who will serve on the organization, which urges students to take the lead in the battle against sexual assault on their campuses and mobilize peers to create cultural and systemic changes.
The It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee was formed last year to help young people work for change on campus. Burton says that her service on the committee will dovetail well with the Personal and Social Responsibility (PSR) Initiative at CMC.
We caught up with Burton, who had just returned to the U.S. from Amman, Jordan, where she lived the past two months as part of a language immersion program learning Arabic.
“I became interested in the It’s On Us campaign and its message toward the conclusion of my freshman year, and felt a calling to apply to this position to help make not just CMC and the 5C community safer, but campuses just like ours and different from ours across the nation safer,” she says. “I also hope to take what I learn from the other student advisers and student leaders at other campuses across the nation and apply those lessons here at CMC and in the 5Cs to continue to make our colleges safer.”
A government and international relations major at CMC, Burton is also an Army ROTC cadet and works at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, where her current research project focuses on the history of terrorism in California. In addition, she’s the treasurer of the Claremont International Relations Society and volunteers regularly at the Center for Civic Engagement.
Burton says that her duties on the committee will be as a White House Student Adviser, in which she and a partner will preside over a geographic region that includes California and Hawaii.
“Our region is the smallest geographically,” Burton says, “but the state of California alone contains the largest undergrad population in the country. Between Hawaii and California, the total student population is over 2.8 million. I will be a liaison of sorts between the It’s On Us campaign itself, and the students at the 228 college campuses of California and Hawaii who wish to get involved and spark conversations on their campuses.”
She says she will accomplish that by providing the students with the necessary tools and by “jumping in” to help organize events when she is needed. “My partner and I will also host a series of awareness weeks and awareness summits over the course of the next academic year. The list sort of goes on, but basically I am an implementer of the message of It’s On Us.”
Burton was on a layover at San Francisco International Airport waiting to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, en route to Amman when she got the call from the It’s On Us office in Washington, D.C.
“I called my parents immediately and I started crying a little in the middle of the airport because I was so excited,” she says. “It was a great rush of excitement, but the press release wasn’t scheduled to happen for another couple of weeks, so this announcement had to be on the down low for awhile.”
Burton says a shameful legacy of blaming the victim in sexual assault cases is deeply embedded in our culture, a situation she wants to help change. In addition to raising general awareness about the issue, Burton would like to act as a resource for anyone who wants to become involved and learn more about sexual assault and rape culture and how to combat it on campus.
“It’s On Us campaign is one of the first of its kind aiming to shift these cultural norms of our society,” she says. “The title of ‘It’s On Us’ inherently places the responsibility on all of us to end campus sexual assault instead of blaming the victim for the awful mores of sexual violence. The campaign forces us to change how we think, and thus reject preconceived notions that ‘She/he/they were asking for it’ or that ‘She/he/they didn’t say Yes but it seemed OK’ and other justifications for sexual assault.”
By becoming involved with It’s On Us, Burton hopes that students can make their campuses safer for everyone, and also end the sexual assault and rape culture with the next graduating generation.
“Think about it like this: It’s On Us is not just against college sexual assault and rape, it’s against rape culture as a whole because as students learn concepts such as consent and bystander intervention, they take these lessons into the real world when they graduate and contribute on their own individual levels to ending this culture. So, as students and the greater campus community, it’s on all of us to end campus sexual assault and the current cultural norms that condone this violence in our nation.”