Sexual assault vulnerability, University spreads awareness

Image by Shay, courtesy of Creative Commons

Carolina Perdomo / Contributing Writer

Justin Santoli, a junior elementary education major, said he is surprised with the number of people that aren’t really aware or sure about what consent means.

“Many people close to me have confided in me that they have been victims of sexual violence in varying degrees,” said Santoli, who also works as an assistant in the University Victim Empowerment Program.

Students that are concerned with the possibility of sex assault on campus can learn more about it at the Red Zone event on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m. at the Modesto Maidique Campus.

Santoli thinks that it is crucial for students to attend events like this, especially if they aren’t aware of how they can protect themselves from assault.

This event is held annually to raise awareness about sexual violence during the fall semester, a time when students are more likely to be sexually assaulted.

“Across the country, during the first six weeks of school, there seems to be a higher number of sexual assault incidents on college campuses,” said Victoria Carney-Paine, health educator from the University Counseling & Psychological Services.

According to Carney, this event focuses on educating students about what consent is, giving permission and getting permission for sexual activities.

The event will also teach students about the problems with drinking and consent, since almost 90 percent of all campus sexual assaults occur under the influence of alcohol.

“Not everybody knows that you can’t legally give consent when you are under the influences of alcohol or drugs, so we want students to know that,” Carney said.

Wendy Ordonez, coordinator of outreach and educational media in CAPS, said sexual violence is a huge problem in our society and most of the time people are not willing to talk about it.

“We want to promote healthy relationships and increase an understanding of what having consensual sex means,” said Ordonez.

There is a lot of miscommunication because people are afraid to talk about certain topics.

“We are here to bring some light to what is typically considered as “taboo” in our society,” she said.

Cindy Guzman, junior international relations major, said it’s scary that sexual assault could happen on any college campus.

“Nobody has the right to take advantage of someone else just because they are vulnerable,” Guzman said. “I think it’s a perfect opportunity to educate students about sexual violence in campuses and the ways to prevent it.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one out of four female college students will be a victim of sexual assault during their academic career.

This means that college women are most vulnerable to sexual assault during the first few weeks of the freshman and sophomore years.

“Learning about the good stuff and the bad stuff should make you into a well-rounded professional — even hard topics such as sexual assault,” Ordonez said.

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