by Stephanie Canales, Advocate
Can you imagine a University without students? there will be no graduation ceremonies, no classes, extracurricular events, concerts, special guests. Companies and businesses would lack professionals to carry on their work. Students form a vital part of our society. We don’t always realize that students influence social values: dating rules, dressing styles, vocabulary, music, etc. The power that students have over what is modern, appealing or even socially acceptable is huge.
According to local University, CSU Fresno statistics, around 60% of the people on campus are women. At any graduation ceremony, there are hundreds of women from different backgrounds and nationalities. However, 20% of women on campuses are at risk or have experience sexual assault. This means that 1 out 5 women students will suffer the trauma of sexual assault, not only physically but in their hearts and minds.
The vast majority of cases of sexual assault are committed by someone who is known by the victim. Therefore, women on campus are being sexually assaulted by their friends, boyfriends, husbands, family members, and even those who is perceived as authority figures; which includes but not limited to a professor or even Law Enforcement. Men are also at risk but only 1 out 10 cases are males and they are usually assaulted by other men.
If you are troubled by these numbers, you can do something about it. You can attend campus events organized by the Women’s Resource Center and campus clubs. Many student activists from the Women’s Studies Department collaborate and create a safe space where students from our campus disclose how violence and sexual assault have affected their lives. Listening to their experiences is shocking and it puts a face on how important is that all of us take a stand against it.
Thanks to Title IX and VAWA, universities are mandated to take action against sexual assault. But without students’ input and innovation and power, any effort to end sexual assault on campus is like giving classes to empty chairs. Students can speak against sexual assault and against old dating styles. Dating can be fun and important for our development as human beings. Why not learn how to communicate safely about consent during sexual encounters so people are less likely to get hurt?
The trauma of sexual assault can be devastating. People suffer from social isolation, depression, anxiety, chemical dependency and increased risk of suicide. Who could study for a final exam when suffering from trauma symptoms? Sometimes the traumatized person does not even recognize or accept that something is wrong.
A campus free of sexual assault not only makes dating better but also increases the chances of success for both men and women. Let’s take a stand against sexual assault today and innovate our dating culture towards a brighter future for everyone. RCS Fresno invites you to make a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. Pledge to not be a bystander to the problem, but to be part of the solution to end sexual assault.