CSU continues battle against campus sexual assault



Valerie Salcido,

Last month Cal State East Bay’s Health and Wellness Center hosted “Take Back the Night,” a student assembly that allowed students to discuss sexual violence in a supportive environment and helped equip students to better identify sexually violent situations.

The event was held behind Lassen Hall lit by 100 bags filled with lights. Twenty-five of the bags held red lights to symbolize the 1 in 5 college women who are victims of sexual violence, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Geared towards students who live on campus, the event emphasized bystander intervention.

“We don’t want survivors at Cal State East Bay because we don’t want victims,” said University Police Chief Sheryl Boykins during the event.

The event was part of a larger, ongoing effort across the California State University system to address issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment on its campuses in compliance with Title IX, one section of education amendments put in place by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the early 1970s to help protect people from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex.

Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments.

Failure to do so is a violation that can ultimately result in loss of federal funding.

Last year the CSU system hired its first Title lX compliance officer — Pamela Thomason — to implement key target goals as the federal law aims to minimize: sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus.

Implementation of Title IX has played out in a variety of ways in campuses throughout California.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]“Hopefully, at the end of the month there will be an email directing all students to an online mandatory training regarding sexual misconduct.” – Terri Lebeuax[/mks_pullquote]

Last year, San Diego State University students reported 17 sexual assault incidents, according to KPBS.

In response, SDSU implemented the Let’s Talk initiative, an on-campus sexual assault advocate.

They’ve also partnered with the Center for Community Solutions, established a campus women’s center and assigned a sexual assault investigator, according to San Diego State University Community Resource Officer Mark Peterson.

“It is generally believed that sexual assaults are under-reported,” Peterson said. “And I believe the university is creating a culture where sexual assaults are no longer tolerated or ignored.”

This June, CSU Chancellor Timothy White signed Executive Order 1095, designed to help CSU schools implement new Title IX programs.

The order is intended to help establish campus working environments “free of any sexual discrimination and harassment.”

In Spring 2016, CSU Northridge will launch a campus peer education program called Men CARE, which stands for “Men Creating Attitudes for Rape-free Environments.”

The program will host workshops and provide training on how to prevent sexual assaults.

The Student Health and Wellness Center at Cal State East Bay has counselors and medical staff to provide immediate as well as ongoing, confidential support for victims of sexual assault.

The school refers students to organizations such as Bay Area Women Against Rape, San Francisco Women Against Rape, The Men’s Center for Counseling and a few others.

“Hopefully, at the end of the month there will be an email directing all students to an online mandatory training regarding sexual misconduct,” said Cal State East Bay’s Title IX Officer Terri Lebeaux.

Right now there are no agreed upon standards for those found guilty of sexual harassment. Depending on the case, a harasser could be suspended anywhere from a week to a few years.

On Oct. 11 Jerry Brown vetoed a bill which would require a minimum two-year suspension for any student responsible for a sexual assault crime. In his statement Brown explained that students should not receive less punishment because he or she is an athlete, or because they pertain to a valuable area of study.

Brown expects professionals to use their best judgment in disciplining students responsible for sexual violence, without the intervention of the state.