Sac State community brings light to Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Kaitlin Sansenbach

In 2010, students at Sacramento State could find media releases from the Sacramento State Police Department warning students about sexual assaults that had happened on campus.

Pre-nursing major Rick Diaz said he remembers walking through campus two years ago reading about the attacks.

“I was really surprised to see so many notices regarding sexual assault attacks on campus,” Diaz said. “I mean, we come here to learn and it is really discomforting to see that people have other intentions when in a school environment. It makes me really worried.”

According to Sac State’s Clery Report, from 2009 to 2011 there were 22 sexual offenses reported to the Sacramento State Police Department by college students. These acts were committed on campus, on non-campus property and in residence halls.

To bring awareness to students, faculty and staff, the Women’s Resource Center has worked hard to put together events to support April as Sexual Awareness Month. The resource center will explore the challenges of Sac State’s past regarding sexual assault, acknowledge the issues and find solutions.

As defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sexual assault and abuse can be verbal, visual or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control conducted a survey with 5,000 students at more than 100 college campuses, and found out of those women surveyed, 20 percent had been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against their will.

Senior women’s studies major Katherine Sheldon said she is involved with Choice USA to help bring awareness to the sexual misconducts throughout campus.

“As a woman, I feel as if I am supposed to follow a set of guidelines in order to prevent sexual assault. We are told to not dress a certain way, to not act a certain way,” Sheldon said. “But the responsibility shouldn’t rely only on the shoulders of women – it should be held among both men and women.”

In accordance with the California Code of Regulations, Sac State does not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form. Sexual misconduct can include, but is not limited to, sexual assault or battery, sexual harassment or any other form of non-consensual sexual conduct.

Juan Ramos, senior psychology major, said he was showering in Yosemite Hall last week after a workout at The Well.

“As a guy I was even a little scared showering alone at night on campus,” Ramos said. “It’s weird because you hear about all the sexual assaults against women but sometimes I find myself looking around for questionable strangers.”

The Sacramento State Police Department has offered 579 crime prevention and safety presentations since 2005 to increase awareness for personal safety.

Some students, like senior journalism major Samantha Moreno, said they do not feel in danger walking through campus.

“If anything, I will get a catcall but I never really feel at risk to be assaulted. But then again, I never take any night classes,” Moreno said. “I have had friends though that will buy pepper spray or a Taser to get that extra boost of security.”

In 2011, only four incidents of sexual assaults were reported. Even though reports of assaults have decreased, there are still a handful of students who said they feel protected by what they carry in their hands.

Krista Solway,pathology major, said she always has her added accessories at night when walking to her car for protection.

“One night, I was walking to Parking Structure II and there was a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt standing in the row in front of the one I was parked in,” Solway said. “I didn’t know what he was doing but ever since then I’ve had my pepper spray in my left hand and my Taser in my right.”

Some students may feel comfortable walking Sacramento State during the day but others fear the shadows of the night – an attitude the Women’s Resource Center wants to change.