The giant screen at TCF Bank Stadium flashed footage of University of Minnesota students, athletes and coaches sharing their thoughts on campus sexual misconduct as hundreds of fans looked on Thursday night.
The video was featured at the April 12 spring Gophers football game as part of the It Ends Here campaign, which was launched by the Minnesota Student Association on Tuesday.
MSA partnered with Gophers Athletics to promote the initiative at the game, where players wore It Ends Here decals on their helmets and rushed the field with campaign-themed oars.
The campaign aims to raise awareness and provide resources to the campus community regarding sexual misconduct, consent and bystander intervention for all groups of students on campus.
Several Gophers football players, along with MSA personnel, took part in the video, which includes statements from students on the thoughts and emotions they have about sexual misconduct.
“We have a huge platform,” running back Rodney Smith said. “We’re ambassadors … we want to team up with students and be the forefront.”
At the press conference, head coach P.J. Fleck said their platform gives the Gophers football team a responsibility to educate the community on sexual harassment.
However, helmet stickers don’t do much more than raise awareness, he said.
“We’ve put the pressure on ourselves to act right,” Fleck said. “Our players aren’t perfect … when things happen, they’ll be handled efficiently.”
No matter how long Fleck is head coach of the football team, he said he hopes the principles and values of his program will be life-long practices.
The campaign was created by MSA’s Sexual Assault Task Force, a new initiative this year, and will be expanded upon next fall as part of the President Kaler’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct, which started spring 2017.
MSA President Trish Palermo said they are partnering with several groups on campus for the campaign, including sororities and fraternities. The campaign is also promoting resources offered by the Aurora Center, University of Minnesota Police Department and University Student Legal Services, among others.
It Ends Here is a campaign dedicated to raising awareness, but Palermo said the task force is also working wtih UMPD and the Minnesota State Legislature.
Palermo said she loved seeing everyone in the stadium turn their heads toward the video seeing It Ends Here signs appear on the lawns of fraternities around campus. However, she said the prevalence of sexual misconduct is deeper than people think.
“There’s a long way to go,” she said.