Amid the chain of sexual assaults and rape allegations that have emerged on Ohio University’s campus since the start of the school year, the Athens community has been on edge.
Within a month’s time, according to The Columbus Dispatch, there’s been a total of 12 sexual assault cases, with over half (7) being reported as rape. As a result, the collective “It’s on us, Bobcats”, a group consisting of students Mallory Golski, Cody Shanklin and Hannah Burke, has formed.
The group’s objective, Golski says, is to address the recent reports of sexual violence and to encourage other students to speak out against these acts. Oddly, the creation of the group was somewhat of a spontaneous effort. Though the three members interacted through their involvement in student organizations, the idea behind the group’s formation started from a text message from Shanklin, asking Golski and Burke for their participation in a protest.
“The idea for ‘It’s on us, Bobcats’ started when Cody Shanklin texted me asking if I wanted to help him organize a rally or march in response to the recent sexual assaults on campus,” Golski says. “It wasn’t really until a few weeks ago that we actually joined forces for this cause. I agreed, and then I suggested that we include Hannah Burke, because she is a student leader on campus with a history of being involved in causes and events like this.”
Since the group’s inception on September 9, 2018, its members have invited students and administrators to join in a silent walk on September 27. Golski says the walk is an act of activism and an effort to bring awareness toward the recent reports of sexual assault. The event was posted on Facebook earlier this month and gained significant traction ahead of the official date.
As of now, the page has nearly 500 people expected attendees and over 1,000 interested in participating. In order to draw additional support, Golski says, the three organizers refrained from associating the newly found group with more established university organizations. This effort, she says, was to open the group to all students, regardless of their outside affiliations.
“While the three of us each [had] a leadership role in a prominent organization on campus, we agreed that ‘It’s on us, Bobcats’ should not be affiliated with or sponsored by any particular organization,” Golski says. “We want all students to feel welcome to attend, regardless of whether or not they identify as a member of any particular organization or group.”
Students have taken additional action. Sororities and fraternities have placed anti-rape messaging banners on their houses. Also, a GroupMe group chat filled with hundreds of students to buddy up with each other when walking to their residences late at night was formed. These efforts, Shanklin says, speaks to the people of Athens, their undying support for one another. He anticipates the collective’s event will continue to inspire the Athens community to make similar efforts.
“I believe that ‘It’s on us, Bobcats’ will encourage students to recognize the culture behind sexual assault and to speak up and do something when they see someone being harassed,” Shanklin says. “I also believe we will inspire more students to keep letting their voices be heard and to do something when they see something wrong.”
Though the “It’s on us, Bobcats” event will be the first for the collective, both Golski and Shanklin are confident students and local Athenians will be in attendance and, more importantly, the silent walk will be the first step to a safer college campus.
“I hope to encourage others that if they see an act of injustice, to take a stand and do something about it,” Shanklin says. “I also hope to inspire students to stand up and shut down acts of violence, harassment, or unequal treatment when they see it.”
If you would like to participate, “It’s on us, Bobcats” will be held September 27th at 7:30 p.m. There will be a rally followed by a march at College Green.