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Mace & Crown | April 29, 2017

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SGA Aims to Boost Monarch Pride with “Monarchs Rising Up”

By Josh Whitener
Assistant News Editor

ODU’s Student Government Association invited students to the unveiling of “Monarchs Rising Up,” a new initiative tackling campus issues such as sexual assault, social media bulling and outreach to off-campus businesses. Its proposal coached a large crowd of gathering students to embrace the pride of belonging to the ODU community and help to keep other Monarchs safe from ongoing campus concerns.

SGA Student Body President Chris Ndiritu took to the podium to deliver a plan of action for SGA and students to collaborate together with new initiatives to combat a known problem on campuses: sexual assault.

“We are moving towards a campus that is taking a strong stance against this issue by attacking it head on. Student leaders around this campus held many programs and initiatives such as ‘Big Blue Take Back’ that addresses this issue,” Ndiritu said.

ODU has showcased many awareness presentations and events throughout the semester, but SGA plans to take the lead in educating students to prevent this ongoing epidemic.

“The campus has just signed a contract to have a bystander intervention program education that will start in the early Fall to help our students be educated on the issue. The minute students step on our campus as a freshman or transfer student they are required to attend [this] class which helps our students understand the issue but also how to engage in the prevention of sexual assault,” Ndiritu said.

Along with sexual assault, social media platforms and their usage among students for harassment and bullying was addressed as an issue students face at ODU.

“While these programs are not intended to be used as a playfield for bullying and harassment, this is exactly what we see in today’s society,” Ndiritu said.

ODU students had a firsthand experience in when two ROTC students posted a controversial image on Instagram that incited racial tensions among students.

“In order for us to move from a culture that bashes each other from social media, we must realize that we each can contribute to more positive social media…each negative tweet we send out about the university only destroys the reputation that we’ve built all these years,” Ndiritu said.

Ndiritu urged students to be accountable for the actions they may take part in on social media. SGA’s initiative is to simply warn students of the damaging consequences negative posts on social media can have on fellow Monarchs and encouraged them to be more responsible.

Concluding the presentation, Student Body Vice President Carina Wicker explained the importance of extending communications to neighboring restaurants and bars around campus to promote safety and liability.

“With the off campus initiative we have now started a committee inside Student Government to have connections with the businesses surrounding us. So next time you go to ‘[Raising] Cane’s’ or the next time you go to ‘Mojo Bones’ we’re going to have a partnership that makes sure that their servers and their bartenders get you home safe,” Wicker said.

Wicker also promoted the LiveSafe app, which has been utilized by student to ensure a safer way to return to campus or their residence if students are coming home from a night out.

“We want to make sure those connections and partnerships are relevant and alive,” Wicker said.

Students were shown a video developed by SGA at the presentation’s conclusion, which emphasized the importance of improving campus life. Free T-shirts were given out to students who attended as well as pizza, deserts and other refreshments. The enticement of free food kept most of the students patiently waiting throughout the video.