Air Force Reserve sexual assault presentation raises awareness

Kathleen Pizzo

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp held an open presentation Nov. 8 on sexual assault and harassment, designed to change the way both are perceived and handled on campus and in the Air Force.

Squadron Commander for the detachment Ian Myles, who organized the event, said his emphasis was on the issue and how students could mitigate against the issue of sexual assault no matter where it takes place.

“It  is an issue within the U.S. Air Force as well as for students on campus,” Myles said. “I want to see a sense of good and change come out of these [presentations] because it is a big issue in the Air Force, but it’s a big issue in the workplace and in general. I just got the idea to stand up to try to do something about it.”

Despite concerns for her safety, 21-year-old liberal studies major Alayne Goeb is enrolled in a 6-9 p.m. class that ends when there are very few people on campus.

Goeb said part of the reasoning behind her fear stems from the fact that prior to transferring to Sacramento State, she heard about several attacks on female victims on or nearby campus.

“I don’t like taking night classes,” Goeb said. “I don’t feel safe. I don’t know if it’s because I’m paranoid, but I’m always super cautious.”

Currently, all incoming students are required to take two mandatory online tutorials called “Alcohol, Zombies, and You” and “Unless There’s Consent.”

Jessica Heskin, an advocate and health educator at the Wellness Center, said the tutorials educate students about sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment. Among the other forms of outreach are self-defense classes offered both in the Wellness Center and in the Department of Kinesiology.  

Heskin said sexual assault is defined in many ways, but it is essentially any sexual act against a person’s will and/or without their complete knowledge and consent.

At Sac State, Police Chief Mark Iwasa said because of the help of the Wellness Center and the 24-hour police station on campus, sexual assault is no more of an issue than anywhere else. He said in recent years, he is only familiar with two sexual assault cases.

But the threat of sexual assault still exists, Iwasa said.

“There’s a number of assaults that occur that aren’t reported,” Iwasa said. “Unfortunately for the most part, unless we receive a mandated report from the victim, then we don’t hear about it.”

Iwasa said crimes become crimes when somebody reports an issue and without that, law enforcement does not have much of a role other than a preventive one. For example, the police will intervene in cases where a predator is a threat to others, and not just one victim.

At the Residence Halls, when a room adviser becomes aware of sexual assault they must report it to law enforcement. A criminal investigation takes place by talking to witnesses and victims, and trying to isolate the offender.

The downside of the lengthy process is that victims may not even bring it forward as a result.

“I’ll be the first to admit it, it’s an overwhelming process,” Iwasa said. “But it makes sense. The victim is the source of information, but the campus is acting on not just them, but everyone that could potentially be affected. It’s a responsibility, but it’s somewhat liberating.”

Government and dance major Brianna Yadon, 18, lives in Sutter Hall and said although she does not feel safe walking around an open campus at night, she feels fine about living in a co-ed dorm.

“I haven’t had any bad experiences with it so far,” Yadon said. “Everyone I talked to about the dorms never mentioned any scary stories, so I went in feeling good. On move-in weekend, we talked about safety, but since then sexual assault has not been discussed again.”

Goeb said she practices a number of safety precautions to avoid potential attacks while on campus at night, including parking her car close to her class, walking on pathways with plenty of light, not getting too close to people and carrying pepper spray.

“I’ve never had any attacks or scares at Sac State, but that’s because I’m aware of my surroundings and I’m careful,” Goeb said.