Sometime during Saturday’s game, probably during one of those extra long TV timeouts, you might have seen a PSA video on the big screens with a handful of celebrities repeating “It’s On Us.” Then President Obama appeared, a loud booing rang from the student section, and the video was over. You may have thought it was a campaign about environmental change, drunk driving or even the ebola virus. It was not about any of those topics.
The ad was for the “It’s On Us” campaign, an initiative launched Sept. 19 by The White House to combat the growing sexual assault epidemic on college campuses. Rather than blaming, well, men, the campaign focuses on changing the culture around sexual assault, namely the importance of bystander intervention and stopping victim blaming.
By MSU displaying the PSA video during football games it should relay to everyone in Spartan Stadium that the university is participating in solving a nation-wide problem. However, showing that particular ad, one that was clearly made for a television audience, not a football stadium, is not the way to do it, because the fans are not getting the message.
While I would like to blame the childish behavior of the student section for booing President Obama without really knowing what the video was about, that is not going to solve the larger issue. In the end, the university is trying to educate students about the importance of sexual assault prevention.
I should also point out, that it is not just the students that are not understanding the video. When I asked my uncle and cousin, who sit at the 50-yard line, what they thought the video was about they gave me a confused look and then said “The one that people booed at?”
People are in a football stadium thinking about sports, so, the ad should have sports in it, just like all the other videos that are showed during the game. The university should be creating their own video, one that uses athletes and coaches talking about the importance of the campaign and how it is being implemented at MSU.
Coach Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo are arguably the most favored personnel on the campus. Both have daughters who attend MSU and are likely aware of the dangers of sexual assault that face students on campus. Having either of the coaches talk about MSU’s commitment to the “It’s On Us” campaign would do a better job connecting the message to the people in the stands.
There is also no denying the close relationship sexual assault has with college sports. It is not something that should be ignored, especially because MSU has run into its own athletic-related assault problems. Employing top MSU athletes to voice their dedication to solving the problem would speak volumes about the integrity of our athletes.
According to statistics from The White House, one in five college women are sexually assaulted in their time at a university. This is why the ad’s message should be heard by all of Spartan Stadium, but we can not just sit around and complain that the audience is not getting it. The administration needs to recognize the lack of reception that the “It’s On Us” video is getting and create a campaign video that truly represents the university’s values towards sexual assault and is geared toward MSU’s audience.
They can start by getting a better sound system for the stadium.
Alexa McCarthy is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Bradley Allen/Impact Sports