By Izbel Torres
April has been recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month by the city of Pomona since 2001. The movement’s aim is to raise awareness for sexual violence and educate the public on how to prevent it.
At Cal Poly Pomona, the Violence Prevention and Women’s Resource Center held many events throughout the month to educate the community on sexual violence and support sexual assault victims.
On April 3, students gathered at the Bronco Commons for Take Back the Night, a march held in protest against rape and sexual assault. The event encouraged women to feel safe indoors and outside.
The rally also included a community resource fair, food vendors, and live music. Attendees gathered for the march across campus where they repeated chants such as “Whatever we wear, wherever we go. Yes means yes, no means no.”
At the end of the night, survivors willingly spoke about their experiences with sexual and physical abuse.
“It’s a historical protest against sexual assault and gender based violence that is going against the truth that women don’t feel safe alone at night [for fear of being raped],” said Marina Wood, interim coordinator of violence prevention education. “The idea is that women are taking back the night, but at the same time taking back our body and our autonomy and things like that.
Even if it’s just one day where we get to shout out, ‘Hey, this isn’t cool!'”
On Thursday, students wore black dresses emblazoned with ‘My little black dress does not mean yes’ to support The Little Black Dress Campaign. Alternatively, students could wear jeans for Denim Day. Denim Day brings awareness to a case where a judge ruled a rape victim must have consented to sex because she wore tight jeans and must have helped to remove them.
“Little Black Dress is just saying it doesn’t matter what someone is wearing, it doesn’t give you the right to assault them in any type of way,” said Paige Gaytan, a first-year liberal studies student. “[The Denim Day case] is absolutely ridiculous ” it makes no sense. It doesn’t matter that she was wearing skinny jeans. It didn’t give [the perpetrator] the right to assault her like that.”
Mimi Alvarado, a first-year psychology transfer student, chose to participate in the campaign to combat notions of slut shaming and victim blaming.
“I believe that as women we need to support one another,” said Alvarado. “So the LBD campaign meant a lot, because it’s a bunch of women of different shapes and sizes who come together and say ‘We agree that what I wear doesn’t determine whether I’m asking for it, that I should be catcalled, or if I should be objectified and sexualized.’ It’s just me expressing my sexuality and personality because I feel confident of my body, my outfit, and myself.”
In the last month, two sexual battery cases have occurred on campus. Both cases involved the suspect making unwanted sexual contact. In response to these cases, Campus Police have issued crime bulletins.
Because of a widespread issue with sexual assault, the entire California State University system is also now mandating that all students complete training on gender-based violence and harassment.
Some students, however, feel that these acts are not enough and that administration should find a more active way to combat these assault cases.
“I feel like they’re just telling us to be careful and that this thing happened,” said Alvarado. “We need more mandatory classes in these situations. A lot of men say what’s wrong is wrong, but when no one is watching, they might do otherwise. We need more campaigns, advertisements and movements on campus that apply to [these cases] and everyone.”
Wood, who has worked as VPWRC’s interim coordinator since January, hears students concerns and hopes to collaborate on more beneficial.
“Since I’ve gotten here, I have tried to do as much as possible,” said Wood. “What I hope is that we are going to be able to have a more comprehensive prevention program. That will depend on what happens in the restructuring of our program. Anybody who wants to talk about prevention is welcome to talk to me. I am open to ideas and collaboration.”
Jairo Pineda / The Poly Post
Little Black Dress Campaign
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