Sexual Assault Awareness at Sac State

Marissa Montoya

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month at Sacramento State. The goal of the campaign is to bring an understanding of the prevalence of sexual violence to the Sac State community and spread knowledge on the resources available on campus to help students who are survivors of sexual violence.

Various events throughout the month include presentations and discussions about sexual assault, dating violence and supporting survivors. There are also very popular events such as the 14th annual Sac State “Take Back the Night,” which was held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15 and “Denim Day at Sac State,” on Wednesday, April 29.

Associated Students Inc. invited students to sign the “It’s On Us” pledge on Monday, April 6. The pledge is part of an awareness campaign launched by President Obama in 2014 urging people to not simply be a bystander to sexual violence.

Lauren Lombardo, ASI president, signed the White House pledge on behalf of Sac State.

“The ‘It’s On Us’ initiative is a national campaign being promoted through the White House,” said Lombardo. “It calls on everyone to create an environment where sexual assault is stopped and a culture where it is unaccepted. The campaign says that it is not on the victim to deal with the problem, it’s on us.”

Jessica Heskin, Student Health and Counseling Services advocate and health educator, encourages students to seek out the resources Sac State has in order to empower themselves, and others, to take a stand against sexual violence, and even unwelcome sexual comments.

“We offer many classes on bystander intervention and encourage students to join us in the efforts of making sexual violence a community issue, not just a victim’s issue,” said Heskin. “Speaking up and letting people know that kind of behavior is not tolerated is a powerful statement, not just to the people making the comment but to any other people who may be listening.”

Heskin is an especially unique resource on campus because unlike other employees, she is a confidential advocate. As a confidential advocate, Ms. Heskin is not required to immediately report the incident; rather she can discuss different options, services and provide emotional support.

Allison Morgan, deputy Title IX coordinator at Sac State, is responsible for investigations on campus. She also helps coordinate Sac State’s “We Care. We Will Help” campaign which encourages victims and bystanders to report any abuse.

“Sac State encourages the campus community to confront and dispel misconceptions about sexual assault and any victim-blaming attitudes,” said Morgan. “No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, stalked or victimized in any way, and there should be no stigma attached to someone who has experienced or reported sexual misconduct. When a person reports sexual misconduct, the Office of Equal Opportunity takes all steps possible to protect the victim’s confidentiality and prevent retaliation.”

The 14th annual Sac State Take Back the Night is led by ASI and peer health educators. It is a march through campus which raises awareness of sexual violence and encourages the participation of the whole campus community.

There will be a screening of the film “The Hunting Ground” on Monday, April 27 at noon in the Redwood Room of the University Union. The film is a documentary about rapes on college campuses.

Denim Day will take place on Wednesday, April 29. The day is celebrated worldwide and is intended to draw attention to misconceptions surrounding sexual assault and victim blaming.

The month will conclude with “Men Who Ask,” on April 29 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Summit Room of the Union. The panel will include discussions between fraternity members on how they can take an active role in sexual assault prevention.

If you, or someone you know, has been a victim of sexual violence, Jessica Heskin can be reached at (916) 278-3799.