Students launch Rutgers chapter of 2016 'No More' campaign
Rutgers students are gathering to stand up to violence and the negative stereotypes directed toward sexual assault survivors.
The University's chapter is an extension of the national "No More" campaign, said Jake Comito, a Rutgers Business School junior.
The campaign at Rutgers was started primarily by Comito, who used similar ideas from the celebrity "No More" movement in order to make a difference in his college community, he said.
"We brought 'No More' to Rutgers because we thought it would be an important message for students to listen to. The No More logo is a unifying symbol that prompts bystanders to engage in difficult situations,” he said.
The campaign involved taking pictures of students in front of poster boards Comito created and then edited. Individuals who took a picture were encouraged to upload it onto an album titled, "RU Says No More" or use the hashtag, "#RUSaysNoMore, he said.
Pictures of Rutgers students who had joined the movement were placed around campus, said Priya Kantesaria, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
"It was a great way to get our message out there and show support,” Kantesaria said.
Every individual has the ability to make a difference in his or her community and tackle the most difficult issues, she said.
“No More's overall message is quite simple. We can be the generation to end sexual assault and domestic violence. And that change starts with us," she said. "These issues are complex, but there are many things we can do to chip away at these institutionalized issues."
Sexual assault is a difficult topic for most people to discuss, but Comito said he is devoted to changing that standard.
In the past, sexual assault has been taboo, which is why it is difficult for people to speak about their assaults, Comito said.
"No one really wants to hear it. It shouldn’t be an uncomfortable conversation," Comito said. "It's necessary because it helps the survivors and the other stakeholders in the incident."
Although the campaign received some skepticism, the results of it and the support that it has received have been outstanding, Comito said.
“It started out as a program. It grew into a campaign from all of the interest people demonstrated after that first event we had in October," he said.
Since then, 300 pictures have been taken. On Facebook, Comito said there are more than 45,000 people actively talking about the campaign, sharing and posting about it.
The organizations that the Rutgers "No More" chapter collaborated with have been supportive and have especially increased acceptance and awareness of the campaign, said Miquel-Catlyn Gabbidon, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
“The most exciting (thing) I think for us was being featured on the Global Citizen platform," she said. "They were so impressed with what we were doing and how much we had accomplished that they decided to not only do a profile piece on us but also shoot a short video of Jake."
Comito said he is also pleased with the results of that partnership.
“In one week (it) has almost 30,000 views. It has over 1,000 reactions to it as well and over 300 shares," he said. "It's a nicely put together video, and it's gone pretty viral within our communities because so many people are talking about the impact this campaign has had in the Rutgers community."
Students around campus have been an integral part of the "No More" campaign, but the hard work that the advocators have put in to create change is equally noteworthy, Gabbidon said.
We have a lot of ideas and plans for the future to continue the progress that the No More campaign has generated, Comito said.
“We're in the process of becoming an on-campus organization right now. I'm in the midst of writing our constitution. We want this group and our message to stay on our campus forever. It's something that is very prominent right now that we want addressed even after we graduate,” Comito said.
But students do not have to wait for future events or even the new club to make a difference, Kantesaria said. By changing the words they use and becoming more aware of how language can affect others, students can help out.
There are many things that Rutgers students can do in their day to day lives, Kantesaria said.
"It starts with the small things like banning micro-aggressions from your vocabulary. Stop using gender roles and rape as jokes or insults. It’s not okay to take these issues lightly,” Kantesaria said.
Through our efforts and with time, Kantesaria said she hopes there will be a society that is safe and is free of sexual violence.
“In fact, there are places around the world now that have eliminated all forms of sexual violence. And I believe that with an informed and empowered population, one that feels motivated to stand up for the right things and is motivated enough to support the cause, we can eliminate sexual violence,” she said.
Nicole Osztrogonacz is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in English. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Find her on Twitter @nikki_osz for more.