Campus & Community

Senior Jess Davidson named White House ‘Champion of Change’

University of Denver senior Jess Davidson was one of 10 students recognized by the White House last week as an “It’s On Us White House Champion of Change.”

The “It’s On Us” campaign, which seeks to engage college students and other members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault, has reached students at more than 500 schools in 48 states since its launch in September. Davidson was selected for the award because of her leadership in mobilizing others at DU to change the culture around sexual assault and dating violence, and for working to create systemic changes on the DU campus and beyond. She was honored at a White House ceremony Thursday.

“My time at the White House was affirming to me as a survivor, activist and human being,” Davidson says. “Joe Biden looked me in the eye and called me brave and courageous. He said, ‘You’re making a difference to an awful lot of women around the country — keep it up.’ I know that I will.”

Davidson says she has been inspired by the way the White House has championed the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, particularly with the “It’s On Us” campaign.

“To see the highest level of leadership in our country and in our world not just condemn sexual violence, but to go to such lengths to eradicate it and make sure that survivors know they are supported and believed sends a radical and clear message: It truly is on all of us to end sexual assault,” she says.

Davidson’s “Champion of Change” award stems from her leadership of the Undergraduate Student Government in creating comprehensive sexual assault prevention education. As student body vice president, she helped implement the “I’ve Got Your Back” program, which provides first-year students with access to a safe walk home, accompanied by an older student, during orientation week.

Davidson is pursuing a BA in political science with a concurrent MA in public policy. She credits her academic work for her success in changing campus culture.

“Because I’m trained in public policy analysis, I understand what it takes to create a good program, involve stakeholders and consider potential unintended consequences,” she says. “If it weren’t for my training, I wouldn’t be able to move the needle on this issue as well as I have this year.”

Her advocacy for issues surrounding campus sexual assault will continue next year while she works as a research assistant for Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “I expect to spend much of my next year of graduate school working with student leaders to finalize and institutionalize the changes we made this year.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *