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The State Hornet

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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Student petition looks to expand Title IX protections to include verbal harassment

The petition aims to add protections against death threats
A+student-led+petition+is+seeking+to+reform+Title+IX+to+include+verbal+harassment+in+its+list+of+protections.+According+to+the+petitions+organizers%2C+current+protections+have+failed+to+properly+protect+students+from+such+harassment.+%28Graphic+created+in+Canva+by+Cam+Hanson%29
Cam Hanson
A student-led petition is seeking to reform Title IX to include verbal harassment in its list of protections. According to the petition’s organizers, current protections have failed to properly protect students from such harassment. (Graphic created in Canva by Cam Hanson)

A petition has been started in a student-led push to reform Title IX after what its organizers call a failure to protect Sacramento State students from verbal harassment.

RELATED: Sac State Says: Putting a price on safety; students disapprove of sexual assault sentencing

According to the petition’s official page, the reformed Title IX aims to include civil harassment and verbal abuse in its list of protections. It also says it hopes to make campuses not just safer, but more inclusive and aware of mental health.

Title IX is a law that prevents discrimination against students for their gender identity or sexual orientation in an academic setting. The law also protects students from cases of sexual assault and harassment.

Named the Campus Protection Act, the petition is meant to stop offenders from hiding their harassment behind claims of free speech, according to the official Change.org site.

Roshelle Czar, one of the petition’s organizers and a fourth-year women’s gender studies major, said she got the idea for the Campus Protection Act after she endured verbal and emotional harassment within the university’s own coed dorms for nearly a year.

“Nobody’s coming on campus to live this constant sense of fear,” Czar said.

Czar said her roommate made sexual and violent remarks toward her, such as wanting to beat her on the head and threatening to burn her alive. Despite Czar making it clear to them several times the remarks scared her, but the harassment continued.

Roshelle Czar, one of the petition’s organizers and a fourth-year women’s gender studies major, at the mural on the side of Santa Clara Hall, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. Czar said she had experienced severe verbal harassment, including death threats from a former roommate. (Ariel Caspar)

When she brought the report to the Crisis Assistance & Resource Education Support office, she said she was told their harassment was protected under free speech. To this day, she said her abuser was never held accountable on campus.

“Even the resources that are there on campus to help you, they only help you in extreme situations,” Czar said. “I wasn’t getting the help I needed.”

Czar said the breaking point for her was when her roommate threatened to “boil her in hot water.”

“I want women to know that no matter what you’ve gone through, you should not be tolerating death threats from your boyfriend or roommate,” Czar said. “You shouldn’t tolerate this behavior ever.”

Czar said she hopes the reform will not only advocate for the mental health of survivors, but also for the assailants. She wants to provide therapy or other resources to abusers in order to prevent situations like hers from occurring on a wider scale.

“The reason why this story matters to me is so that another woman who comes from trauma and isolation like I did, no family or support system, nothing, doesn’t allow something like this to go on as long as I did,” Czar said.

Other students shared that, while they hadn’t known about the petition, it was something they said that definitely needed to be put in place.

“That would be a really great thing for students here,” Fourth-year film studies major Luis Vasquez said. “That way students can feel accepted, and we can have a more tolerant and welcoming environment for all.”

Some students said they felt satisfied with safety options for people on campus, such as the on-campus Hornet Safety Escort. The HSE sends a cart, car, or Community Service Officer to a person’s location, ensuring students get around safely at night.

“I haven’t used the services myself or know anyone who has,” 22-year-old communications major Stephanie Lopez said. “But I’m happy that it’s an option.”

Czar said she aims to implement the Campus Protection Act not just on Sac State’s campus, but nationwide. She said she wants women to be able to attend university without worrying that their protection on campus is run by a broken system.

“Justice for me would’ve been the university having compassion for me the first time I spoke,” Czar said.

Currently, the Campus Protection Act petition has over 500 signatures. The petition can be found on the Change.org website.

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Analah Wallace, News Editor
(they/them) Analah is in their second semester at The State Hornet and their first semester as the news editor. Their passion lies in news reporting and they hope to use their time on the publication to bring back an appreciation for general news writing. Their overall goal is to make the public trust in journalists again, and they hope to one day be a journalist in a big city.
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