The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Addressing sexual assault on campus and globally

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“No means yes, and yes means anal!”

Fraternity brothers chanted this while marching blindfolded pledges across the Yale University campus in the middle of the night in 2010.

Professor Martin Morales, chair of the department of political science and global studies at Cosumnes River College, pointed out that if this can happen at Yale, a pinnacle of higher education, it can happen anywhere.

“Every person, every single race—every single society is affected by [sexual assault],” said Morales, who opened a dialogue about sexual assault March 5 at CRC.

Morales hosted a screening of the documentary “Brave Miss World” followed by a question-and-answer panel discussion attended by about 250 students, staff and community members.

“Brave Miss World,” a feature-length documentary by Cecilia Peck, follows Miss Israel, Linor Abargil, who was crowned Miss World seven weeks after being brutally raped in 1998. Ten years after the attack, Abargil took steps to bring a voice to a silenced, worldwide issue.

“She circles the globe trying to help women speak out against what’s been done to them. She travels to Africa, for example, where she talks to a group of girls who were raped as children, not even teenagers yet,” said Morales. “She wants to raise awareness of the issues of rape. She hopes this film is a guide on how to respond to sexual violence. She wants women to feel no shame for what’s been done to them.”

After the film, a panel of community members, advocates and professionals shared insights and experiences. They provided information and answered questions from the audience.

“What we’re trying to do is increase awareness of this pandemic, open a dialogue of very serious things that aren’t discussed easily, and, above all else, come together as a community,” said Morales, who believes that this is an especially important topic on college campuses.

According to crime statistics provided by Morales, City College had a total of four sexual assaults that occurred on campus between 2010 and 2012. There were two sexual assaults in 2010 and one each in 2011 and 2012.

“One is a big number, and one is one too many. It deserves our attention,” said Morales.

There are steps students can take to prevent being sexually assaulted. Morales suggested taking advantage of campus escort programs that are offered at all of the Los Rios District campuses. Captain of Cosumnes Police Department and panelist John McPeek told the audience that it is a good idea to “make sure people know where you are at, who you are going out with. How many times have we seen this in the paper where somebody has disappeared and no one knows where that person is?”

Brenna Lammerding, prevention and education assistant at WEAVE, Inc., explained that while reducing risk is important, it is also important to recognize that society must not blame the survivor, even if these steps were not taken.

“You should be able to walk to your car at night and not get attacked. You should be able to wear a mini dress out on the town with your girls and not get attacked. You should be able to go anywhere, anytime and not have someone attack you,” said Lammerding.

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“One in three women and one in six men will experience sexual assault during their lifetimes. Ninety-five percent of sexual assaults on college campuses [go] unreported,” said Lammerding. “There’s a lot going on, and no one’s talking about it,” she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of unreported abuse within the LGBT community. It’s prevalent,” said City College sociology major Iris Truley. “People [are] afraid of discrimination.”

It is vitally important that people recognize that society must stop sexual assault, added Jessica Heskin, violence and sexual assault support services director at CSU, Sacramento.

“We need to hold perpetrators accountable. We have to hold our media accountable. We have to do that as a culture. We need to own this on a societal level,” said Heskin.

But holding sexual assault perpetrators accountable means that sexual assault crimes need to be reported. “In 80 percent of assaults, [the victims] know their perpetrators in some way so they might not want to press charges for a multitude of reasons,” said Heskin.

For those sexual assault cases that do get reported, Heskin explained that most of the ones she has seen did not make it to trial because there just wasn’t enough evidence. Irrelevant evidence is too often a factor for the jury.

“We need to have juries that quit questioning what the victim was wearing and what she was drinking,” said Heskin. “That is why forums like this are so important—so that we can educate the public and we can have educated juries and an educated society.”

Information and assistance is available to City College students.

“Our counselors are trained in crisis [counseling],” said Ashley Gibbs, medical assistant at City College’s Health Office in RHN 125. “There are four crisis counselors available at a time.”

Panel member Alexander Kagan, a Cosumnes River College counselor, encouraged those who may have suffered a sexual assault to seek counseling, whether or not they wish to press charges.

“In the process of receiving counseling we would encourage you to contact law enforcement to press charges against the perpetrator,” said Kagan.

Heskin said she told her clients, “Once we report it, it may go through, it may not. But you get to know that you did what you felt you had to do. And that you spoke your truth.”

Heskin also applauded the film.

“ ‘Brave Miss World’ did a really good job of showing why I have done this for 13 years,” said Heskin. “The reason I am a victim advocate is because I get the very rare opportunity to see true heroism and strength of the human spirit on almost a daily basis, and I get to see people who have been through really horrific situations and yet somehow, some way, they are able to come out on the other side.”

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