As hundreds of people traveled to Eugene for what would be the final home football game of the season, fraternity and sorority members strung up teal banners on their houses, displaying a message intended to spark conversation.
The banners depict the phrase “#It’s on Ducks.” The words, along with the teal background, represented a campaign that took place over the weekend to bring sexual assault awareness to campus.
The hope, said Sam Michaan, the Interfraternity Council President, was that people would question the banners and pass along the information that one in five women, and one in 16 men, are sexually assaulted on college campuses nationwide each year.
“By saying ‘It’s on Ducks,’ it’s literally saying these statistics are here because these things happen on campus or in the community,” said Michaan. “It really is on us to change the culture and change the statistics.”
Though the campaign was originally intended for homecoming weekend, when parents and alumni often return to campus, Michaan said the campaign was planned around the last home football game so the banners would be seen by a large number of people.
“People [were] going to be out and about on the town, people [were] going to be driving around, so we figured that that was the best moment to make a statement that would be the most widely seen,” said Michaan.
Fraternity and Sorority Life, the organization through the dean of students that supports Greek life on campus, has a Sexual Violence Prevention Board that meets once a week to discuss sexual assault prevention in the Greek system.
“We know it’s not just Greeks, but we do have a special platform that we wanted to use to try and make a statement,” Michaan said. “I hope that people are talking about things, and I hope that it can at least change the mind of a few people and get them a little fired up about it.”
Michaan said he got the idea from Ohio State University. There, fraternities and sororities hung banners this past September with phrases like “Consent is mandatory” and “Her dress is not a yes,” according to Ohio State's student paper, The Lantern.
Michaan and the Sexual Violence Prevention Board, a group of students with delegates from each of the fraternity and sorority chapters, tweaked the campaign a bit to fit the University of Oregon. They chose teal banners because it’s the color of sexual assault awareness.
Additionally, all banners had the phrase “It’s on Ducks,” as opposed to varying messages similar to Ohio State's. The phrase reflects a national campaign, “It’s on us,” that focuses on taking responsibility for the prevention of sexual assault, rather than simply supporting survivors after an act of violence.
“With the ‘It’s on Us’ campaign, it recognizes that prevention really needs to come from this global perspective, that it’s on all of us to be a part of the solution,” said Kerry Frazee, director of prevention services in the Office of the Dean of Students. Frazee works with students on the Sexual Violence Prevention Board to discuss education and resources.
Not all fraternities or sororities chose to hang the banners, however. Frazee said that members may have chosen not to hang banners out of respect but said she hoped those groups were still having the conversations about sexual violence on campus.
“If we’re going to be trauma-informed and survivor-centered, then hanging a banner that has such a significant meaning without being able to stand behind it says something,” Frazee said. “If they hang it but they can’t stand for what it represents, I think that would cause more harm than if they don’t hang it but they’re having those conversations for their internal awareness, even if it’s not outward facing.”
Though Michaan’s term as IFC president ends after fall term, he said he hopes the incoming president will continue to put health and safety in the Greek community at the forefront of his priorities.
“It would be ignorant to think [sexual violence] could be solved by one action or in one term or even one year,” said Michaan. “All we can really do is try to be better and educate each other. It’ll get better one step at a time.”
An earlier version of this article stated that the idea for the banners came from Ohio University, rather than Ohio State University.