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Yes Means Yes

The Association of American Universities’ new Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct reports that approximately 23 percent of college students have reported instances of sexual assault.  It should be noted that this percentage does not include students who didn’t report instances of sexual assault.

Susan Hua is the Title IX Coordinator in the CSUN Equity & Diversity Office. Title IX is a federal statute stating that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Because CSUN receives Federal financial assistance, this statute applies to the whole university.

A recent incident of sexual assault during CSUN’s Big Show on October 3rd, has led to growing concerns over the safety of students on and off campus, as well as what should be done to prevent future attacks.

“I think these last couple of years we’ve felt that we really need to take a collective stance and position that these types of behaviors are not tolerated and not acceptable,” Hua said.

Measures are being taken to ensure that CSUN employees and students are informed of the issue at hand.

“CSUN employees are also required, just as our students, to take a training course,” Hua said.  “[The course includes] sexual assault prevention, what consent means, what the laws are that apply, how to speak about rape culture, and recognizing that [students and employees] play an integral part in sustaining a safer campus community.”

As far as dealing with sexual assault when it does happen, there are also resources available on campus to students who need assistance.

“I think our role in that is to help find ways to process that and [allow survivors of sexual assault to] heal on their own timeline,” Hua said. “We have hired, in the university, a campus care advocate, who is housed in our student health center.  She functions and acts as an advocate and confidential resource for survivors who need advice and want to talk to someone who can keep what they talk about confidential.”

Melissa Realegeno is a former member of Project D.A.T.E. and the current coordinator of the Peer Education programs in the University Counseling Services.

Realegeno advised students to “download safety apps, be aware of your surroundings, know your limits of alcohol, walk with confidence, know where you’re going, have your keys ready to go, and walk with someone you know.”

“[Sexual assault] can happen to anyone,” Relegeno said. “People assume that it’s just a women problem, but no, it’s everyone’s issue.  It’s about educating people and trying to understand the situation more, instead of assuming what happened or assuming it’s what they’re thinking, when sometimes it’s really hard to understand the psychological point of it all.”

Hua and Relegeno recommended that discussions of sexual assault should begin within families, before students head off to college, where many experience independence for the first time and struggle to figure out their own identity.

“It would be great to have pipelines in between high schools and higher institutions to have that kind of dialogue,” Hua said, “and those kind of efforts be comprehensive, instead of reactive if something happens.”

Moderator: Sara Vong

Anchor: Stephanie Lopez
Producer: Teresa Barrientos
Reporter: James Lindsay
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