Cal Poly Honors Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Although campaigns against sexual assault first began to gain traction during the civil rights era of the 1940s, it wasn’t until 2001 that Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was nationally observed.

 

After 18 years, it has become a major event, with cities and colleges across the nation hosting marches, vigils and awareness events throughout April to help prevent sexual assault and encourage community members to start speaking out against this issue.

 

Today, nonprofits like the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and government organizations, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have gotten involved and begun hosting events on social media to help teach people how to be more aware of sexual assault and take action against it.

 

 Many colleges and universities, including Cal Poly, have been hosting events throughout the month to honor survivors and bring awareness to how this issue affects people on college campuses.

 

This year, Cal Poly’s Safer hosted 8 separate events for students on and off campus, to help them learn more about sexual assault, and the resources on campus that they can access if they or someone they know has been harassed or assaulted.

 

Safer kicked off the month with the “It’s On Us” week of action, organized in partnership with ASI. Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to visit Safer at booths throughout campus and take the pledge to stand up to sexual assault, attend panel discussions hosted by students and faculty members who are working to end sexual violence in the community, and pick up resources they can use to protect themselves and others on campus.

 

They also hosted open discussion forums for students at Front Porch, in residence halls and at the Pride Center. At these events, students learned about what changes they think need to be made to sex education programs in schools, how to support male survivors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and what they can do to dispel the rape culture on Cal Poly’s campus.

 

During the last full week of April, Safer hosted several events, starting with Denim Day on Wednesday, April 24.

 

Students and faculty across campus wore denim in remembrance of a 1998 Italian court case in which a rape conviction was overturned because the judge believed the woman gave consent because she was wearing tight denim jeans that could not have been removed without her help.

 

 This event brought awareness to the long-ignored fact that many survivors often find their story being questioned and doubted after coming forward with their accusations, and helped dispel many misconceptions surrounding sexual assault.

 

 On Thursday, April 25, Safer took to Mission Plaza to host Take Back The Night, a three hour event that began with a resource fair, followed by performances from students and community members who shared poems, essays and music about their experiences with sexual violence.

 

 Attendees then marched through downtown to protest crimes of sexual violence that had taken place in the city, before returning to the plaza to close the event with a candlelight vigil hosted by San Luis Obispo mayor, Heidi Harmon.

 

 Safer closed out the month with Rise Up and Rock, a benefit concert hosted in partnership with RISE of San Luis Obispo. The concert was held at SLO Brew Rock, and featured a number of local performers, including SLO Grrrl, Hot Tina, and more. The event helped raise money for RISE so they can continue to help survivors of sexual and domestic violence by providing counseling services and shelter.

 

 Cal Poly, like many universities, has had many instances of sexual violence on campus, but as students and faculty continue to work together to raise awareness and implement practices to prevent assaults, the campus will hopefully become a safer place for everyone.