With social justice movements such as #MeToo going viral on social media and U.S. Senators working to advance legislation to combat sexual harassment, some professors at USC decided to take the matters into their own hands.
In 2017, USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work clinical associate professors Terence Fitzgerald and Erik Schott co-founded the “It Ends” movement to educate male audiences about how to combat sexual harassment and violence.
To spread the message of the movement, Schott said weekly emails are sent to students, staff and faculty in Dworak-Peck with statistics and tips that people can use to help combat sexual harassment and violence on campus. Some of the tips provide ways to intervene in situations, such as alerting the nearest authorities like residential assistants. Fitzgerald said tips like these can play a significant role in eliminating this issue.
“If we want to end homophobia, we need to get the heterosexual community involved,” Schott said. “If we want to end racism, we need to get those who hold the dominant power, which in our country are Caucasian people, involved. We need to get the men involved with the issue on how to stop sexual assault against women. This movement won’t change unless those who hold the power also change it as well.”
According to Fitzgerald, all men have a role in advancing the cause of justice for survivors of assault and should be educated on this issue. Both Fitzgerald and Schott said they want to foster an environment at USC that is positive for men and women.
“We want to create something lasting, not something that is like a once-a-year type of thing,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to make sure that we are present throughout the years. We want to improve our campus climate so that it is free of sexual harassment, so that’s free of violence and assault.”
Currently, the movement has only reached out to Dworak-Peck students and faculty members because the co-founders wanted to start off small. Next semester, Schott said he hopes to expand the movement to other colleges, such as the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the School of Cinematic Arts and Marshall School of Business.
Once the whole campus is involved, Fitzgerald said he wants the movement to spread to other universities across the nation.
“I wanted to get involved with this mission because I am a huge believer in the power of advocacy,” Dworak-Peck graduate student Gabriel Reyes said. “I believe in how much strength that these types of events and movements bring to different students and supporters.”
The movement’s largest event of the year, a Round Table Dialogue with Leaders in the Movement, will be hosted on Tuesday in Vivian Hall.
According to Schott, the conference is meant to encourage men to pitch ideas, learn how to speak up for victims and survivors and eventually put an end to this issue.
“I hope that the men who join this movement learn to understand this epidemic and hopefully know what steps they can take to do one small thing to help change this,” Schott said. “We want to give some tools to not only to start a dialogue, but to also intervene the next time they see someone being harassed. Giving these individuals the tools and the empowerment to speak up will make a difference.”