Campus hosts sexual assault panel

Safety Week finally arrived and Sonoma State University did its part to spread the word. Sexual Assault awareness and resources were offered Wednesday at the Student Center Ballroom as officials came together as one to address this issue.

The panel consisted of seven members that were workers of the state, campus police and faculty. The meeting discussed a broad range of issues by covering the effects of sexual assault at Sonoma State and also in society as a whole. The panel each individually described their job and further explained what exactly they do to aid the issue of sexual assault and how they aspire to eliminate it.

Counseling and Psychological Services is offered as resources for students in crisis. This is confidential counseling targeted for students who are suffering from issues that are hindering one’s academic success, social life and personal well-being.

Joe Puentes is a psychologist at CAPS and his job is to work with those who are either victims of assault or looking for life counseling. With campus groups such as sports teams, school clubs and Greek Life, Puentes does outreach work addressing the issue of sexual assault and how individuals play a role. He joined the panel to explain the demand of attention sexual assault prevention needs and how work on the issue must be done.

“My favorite part of my job is getting the privilege to work with students during an important part of their life,” said Puentes, “whether it be working to make positive changes, healing from a trauma in their life, or playing an active role in improving their communities.”

Laura Williams is the director of Clinical Services for Counseling and Psychological Services and Sonoma State’s Crisis Advocate. The Crisis Advocate offers assistance to students who have fallen as a victim in either a crime or some sort of traumatic experience. Williams educates students and faculty on sexual assault awareness and how to prevent it, she runs a weekly support group for sexual assault victims.

“I interact with students who have been victimized as a regular part of my job,” said Williams. “As a licensed psychologist, I am required by law to protect the confidentiality of the students I work with. I only disclose information at the student’s request.”

Toni Boracchia is another individual who was at the panel. Boracchia is a health education nurse as well as a nurse at the Student Health Center. A primary goal for Boracchia is sexual assault awareness. She has created and is now distributing flyers that explain what to do if someone has been sexually assaulted. This provides resources such as information regarding assault prevention, medical support, the steps involved in reporting crime to campus police as well as other on-campus resources.

“We try and look at the whole spectrum, the fact that anybody can be a victim of sexual assault male or female,” said Boracchia. “My job is to make sure to let the individual know this information is confidential, but we are mandated reporters because we are the Student Health Center.”

This does not mean an individual is required to file charges, rather it means that the police will contact the individual to receive information regarding their situation. When someone who has been a victim of sexual assault enters the health center, the primary concern of the health provider is to focus on the victim’s health. Once physical treatment has been given, then sexual assault resources are presented to the victim. Concerns such as sexually transmitted infection testing or personal aid from recovery is offered, as well as connections to emotional support groups on campus.

“Sonoma State has had a sexual assault program for as long as I can remember, and since then we have been in contact with each other,” said Boracchia. “We have a system to take care of the person, where they are at and provide them with all necessary resources.” 

Information discussed between students and health providers is confidential, however, health providers are required to report cases to on-campus police due to their position as mandated reporters.