Story and Photos by Adrienne Villanueva, CSUB Public Affairs Intern
On April 2, 2014, The Consent Project, an organization dedicated to raising sexual assault and violence awareness, held an event kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness Month at CSUB. One of the event’s activities included decorating different colored construction paper t-shirts on which attendees were asked to write words of encouragement for victims or share their own experience related to sexual assault or violence. “R.I.P. Steven ‘Eriq’ Escalon: You are missed,” CSUB student and Psychology Club President Oscar Sandoval wrote on a small, white construction paper t-shirt. The white colored shirts symbolized the loss of a life as a result of violence. When asked whom the shirt was for, Sandoval said, “A friend of mine who used to cut my hair. We became close.” He revealed that what was supposed to be a fun night out for Escalon ended in tragedy when a person he’d taken home from a club violently murdered him. Sandoval added, “Through my life experiences, I feel really passionate about issues like this.”
At the event, President of CSUB Dr. Horace Mitchell read a proclamation declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month at CSUB. When asked why the cause was important to him, President Mitchell said, “Sexual assault and family violence are issues throughout our society and I think it’s important that we have Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we want to extend that to have a focus on the campus.” His proclamation echoed that sentiment, which included a statement urging everyone to work together on the prevention of sexual assault and supporting of victims. With this proclamation, Dr. Mitchell joins a budding national initiative to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Just last week, ten U.S. senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), began seeking federal funding to combat campus sexual assaults. In comments regarding these efforts, Gillibrand sited a survey that revealed there were 5,000 forcible sex offenses on college campuses in 2012.
Savannah Andrews, A.S.I. Vice President of Programming, a survivor of sexual abuse herself, heard about The Consent Project at Humboldt State University from a former CSUB professor who told her she should get one started at CSUB. Andrews then took the idea to President Mitchell. He gave his support, and April 2013 became The Consent Project’s first Sexual Assault Awareness Month at CSUB. Andrews’ dedication to the organization stems from the desire to end the silence of sexual assault victims. She hopes to branch out the organizations cause to commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is observed in October.
The Consent Project’s kick off event was the first in a long line of events the organization will host to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month at CSUB. There are five other events slated for April, including a showing of the documentary Trade of Innocents and a “From Victim to Survivor” Brown Bag event. For more information, including dates and locations, visit http://www.csub.edu/calendar/.