Newswise — GLASSBORO, N.J. – On Sept. 19 the White House put the power of the presidency behind an issue that’s affecting students all over America – sexual assault on campus.
The White House campaign, It’s On Us, includes posters, badging and a public service announcement aimed at halting a trend in which one in five women is sexually assaulted during her college career.
To address this trend – and help arrest it –students and faculty within Rowan University’s College of Communication & Creative Arts have led a group of students at five U.S. schools in creating films aimed at helping to end the violence.
Through the series of 10 films, which range from 10-23 minutes, students encourage peers to not only be aware that sexual assault can and does happen but to make a pact to help prevent it.
“This project is part of a war on sexual assault and rape,” said Ned Eckhardt, a professor in Rowan’s Department of Radio, Television & Film (R/T/F) who helped acquire financing and led instruction for the project.
Eckhardt and department chair Keith Brand, in cooperation with the Clery Center for Security on Campus in Wayne, Pa., secured a $200,000 grant from the Wyncote Foundation in Philadephia to pay for the project.
Collectively known as PACT5, the film series includes narrative and documentary film work from Rowan, Framingham State University in Massachusetts, California State University: Northridge, Northern Illinois University and Western State Colorado University.
“PACT5 got our students involved in a meaningful project and put pressure on them to create films that can make a difference,” Eckhardt said.
Diana Nicolae, an associate professor in Rowan’s R/T/F department, believes the films, to be used in freshmen orientation, public safety courses and in other ways at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, will have an impact because they were created by students, for students.
“Students find few things more impactful than student-produced media,” Nicolae said.
The films are supported through a student-generated social media campaign and web site that furthers the key message – students must act to help prevent sexual violence.
Making the PACT
Not only did Rowan secure funding for the project and enlist other university partners, its president, Dr. Ali Houshmand, was the first of the five university presidents to personally make the pact.
“The health and safety of our students is our primary concern,” Houshmand said. “Without exception, providing an environment in which students are safe is the single most important thing we do.”
Of the ten films created for the project, Rowan students wrote, produced, directed and starred in three.
Senior Lauren Stroz, a producer for the film Slutwalk: A Day in Her Heels, said she and other students travelled to Connecticut and Toronto for interviews and footage. The story follows the global phenomenon known as Slutwalk which began after a police chief accused college women of dressing like sluts and prompting their own victimization.
“We wanted to show empowerment,” Stroz said. “It’s a hurtful thing to happen to you but in the end many of these women have been empowered by Slutwalk.”