April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and Sonoma State University is participating by hosting several events all month long.
The most recent event, “May I…” allowed students to learn about sexual assault in a light-hearted environment. “May I…” took place at The HUB, the center for diversity and leadership events on campus.
“May I…” was organized by Martin Herrera-Pazmino, a sophomore and One Time Events and Campus Connections student assistant. Herrera-Pazmino has been planning the Jeopardy-inspired trivia game since March.
Herrera-Pazmino felt a trivia game would be the best way to get information about sexual assault out to students without being too intense.
“Sexual assault is a very heavy topic and sometimes a lot of heavy things become overwhelming and overbearing, so we wanted to talk about sexual assault but have a light approach,” said Herrera-Pazmino.
Herrera-Pazmino put the game together with facts provided by Verity, a Rape Crisis and Trauma Center located in Santa Rosa.
The trivia questions ranged from “What percentage of rapes go unreported?” to “What constitutes as harassment?” Other topics such as incest and sexting were discussed as well.
A common misconception about incest that was brought to light is that not all incest is consensual.
“Often times our first reaction to hearing about incest is, ‘That’s so gross,’ ‘that’s disgusting,’ or ‘ew,’ but if there’s somebody who has experienced or been the victim of non-consensual incest, we are pushing those people away, further silencing them and it might prevent them from coming to us to seek support,” said Corina Buzo, program coordinator of The HUB.
Most college students don’t realize that only five percent of all campus rapes are reported and 82 percent of assaults are committed by someone who is close to the victim such as a classmate or co-worker.
Seventy-five percent of all assaults are planned ahead of time. Twenty-five percent of sexual assaults, however, can potentially be avoided according to Herrera-Pazmino.
“College campuses have a culture of people getting drunk and hooking up,” said Kristen Bricker, Verity’s prevention manager. “Alcohol and drugs, being intoxicated, has a lot to do with sexual assault because you can’t consent while under the influence.”
By participating in Sexual Assault Awareness month, Sonoma State is hoping to educate the campus community on what classifies as sexual assault.
Often times people don’t realize they’re been a victim of sexual assault. According to Bricker. “Sexual assault refers to any sexual act by force or coercion,” she said.
“People don’t know it’s happening. People commit things and don’t understand that it’s sexual assault and then it happens and they’re like, ‘Oh,’” said Herrera-Pazmino.
Aside from statistics about sexual assault, “May I…” also showcased the importance of understanding what acts can cause an individual to register as a sex offender.
Urinating in public and consensual sexual encounters in a car may seem like minor offenses, but an individual convicted of these crimes will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life.
For students and community members affected by sexual assault, Verity offers completely confidential support groups free of cost, as well as counseling on a sliding scale where individuals are able to pay what they can afford.
Verity also offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at (707) 545-7273.
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness month activities being held on campus visit seawolfliving.com.