House anti-assault campaign uses stars, sports to reach campuses
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[September 20, 2014]
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who have long talked about
the need to curb sexual assault at universities, got some help on Friday
from the people many young adults actually listen to: celebrities and
In its latest effort to help college campuses confront the issue,
the White House is relying on a combination of the National
Collegiate Athletic Association, social media and star power to
spread its message aimed at preventing and coping with such
Television actors Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington, hip-hop artist
Common and NBA basketball player Kevin Love are among those
promoting the public awareness campaign, called "It's On Us."
At a star-studded event at the White House's East Room, Obama called
rape and sexual assaults "unacceptable" and asked coaches, teachers
and bystanders - especially men - to step up to prevent such
"It's not just OK to intervene, it is your responsibility," he said.
The celebrities are featured in videos set to air at college
sporting events and across the Internet, the White House said.
Companies including videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc and media
giant Viacom Inc are also on board to spread the message through
Facebook, Twitter and cable television.
Almost one in five women have been victims of sexual assault,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among those, nearly 40 percent were first assaulted between the ages
18 and 24. In comparison, one in 71 men have reported being raped at
some point in their lives, CDC data showed.
The campaign comes as the National Football League grapples with a
series of alleged assaults by players. The furor has touched college
sports as well, with Florida State University this week benching its
top quarterback - for half a game - after he shouted an obscene
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"There's no doubt that colleges and universities need to step up
their game," said Biden, who as a senator successfully championed
the Violence Against Women Act that celebrated its 20th anniversary
On Friday, thousands of Twitter posts began circulating from the
stars involved, retweeted by their fans. "Join the fight+help stop
sexual assault," Washington wrote.
One video on the campaign website includes actor Mayim Bialik,
comedian Joel McHale, and musician Questlove. Biden and Obama also
speak at the end of the clip.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu, G Crosse and Mohammad Zargham)
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