The White House warns spring breakers against sexual assault

Non-profit Generation Progress and The White House have a message for all the coeds and revelers this spring break: No still means no — and everyone is accountable.

San Francisco-based agency Mekanism is rolling out the latest offering in its ongoing “It’s On Us” campaign for The White House and Generation Progress, created to address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. The push entails a print and outdoor campaign, a concerted digital and social effort on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter with the hashtag #itsonus.

The campaign also features a new partnership with mobile safety app LiveSafe and ridesharing company Lyft. The app’s GPS feature “SafeWalk” allows spring breakers to track a friend on a map if he or she happens to be walking back alone from the beach, a bar or a party. It also lets users summon the police to the student’s exact location in the event of an emergency.

“A majority of college students have smartphones, and we want to put these tools in the hands of students especially when they are in unfamiliar locations,” campaign manager Kristin Avery said.

This leg of the campaign is targeting Spring Breakers in Texas and South Florida specifically, who will be cautioned against alcohol abuse. Print ads will encourage them to stand up against sexual assault. Participating universities are cross-promoting the content internally, and the campaign has also partnered with certain fraternities like Alpha Kappa Lambda and Delta Kappa Epsilon to encourage safe spring breaking.

“The campaign has resonated not only because it’s a central issue these days, but also because it gives people the means to talk about a prevalent issue,” Jason Harris, Mekanism’s CEO, said.

Sexual assault on college campuses have been at the center of a fair amount of attention lately, starting especially with Rolling Stone’s problematic 9,000 word story on an alleged gang rape at UVA last year. Columbia University’s Emma Sulkowicz also emerged as a powerful voice in highlighting the issue, when she carried her mattress around campus to literally bring the topic out of the bedroom. New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand has called sexual assault on campuses an “epidemic,” with more than 100 colleges now under investigation for possibly violating federal laws that aim to keep students safe.

“It’s On Us” was launched last fall when The White House teamed up with Generation Progress as well as several partner colleges and universities, media and tech companies to focus on mobilizing campus communities across the nation to prevent sexual assault. The campaign is part of President Obama and Vice President Biden’s ongoing commitment to ensure that both men and women are part of the solution, and has its own website where visitors can take action against sexual assault.

After signing the pledge, users can get a badge on Facebook or Twitter that incorporates the “It’s On Us” logo with their own profile photo. Several universities — such as George Washington University and Drexel University — have also appropriated the campaign and created their own versions of the original PSA, which featured President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington, among others.

“The fact that we also give them these tools, which lets different college bodies personalize it for themselves makes it have such appeal,” Harris said.

Last year’s PSAs will continue to be aired through the month of March at select nationwide theaters, various sporting events, including NASCAR races and arenas including the Verizon Center in D.C., Target Center in Minneapolis and United Center in Chicago. The campaign has so far had 3 billion impressions across all platforms, over 173,000 pledges and over 9,000,000 views of the PSA.

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