In light of April’s designation as Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Pitzer College hosted a panel to raise awareness about the issue of sexual violence at the Claremont Colleges on April 16.
“We keep hearing reports
of sexual violence on the Claremont Colleges and we want to bring awareness to
those reports, and this panel was a way to get out the word, talk to really
knowledgeable people and advocates, and increase awareness about sexual assault
and reduce rates of sexual assault,” panel organizer Aidan Lukomnik PZ ’14 said.
Pitzer’s Smart Sex Society, Men on
a Mission, and the American Civil Liberties Union of the Claremont Colleges sponsored the event. Panel members included representatives from Health Education Outreach (HEO) and the Pomona College Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, as well as Brian Carlisle, Pitzer’s vice president of student affairs. One of the main
topics discussed was the variation between sexual assault policies on the different campuses.
“The first seven to eight pages are
almost identical for all of the institutions except for Pitzer,” Carlisle said. “We created
the Harassment and Discrimination Task Force to create a document which adopts
and puts us in line with the other colleges, as well as expands the definitions
and is more victim-centered.”
The new policies in the document were put to a vote yesterday, April 17, and passed, so Pitzer’s sexual assault policy now aligns with the other four undergraduate institutions.
Another topic addressed at
the panel was how to be an ally for a survivor of sexual assault. According to the federally mandated Clery Act report, the Claremont Colleges reported 16 sexual offenses in 2012.
“If someone is coming to tell you
that they have been sexually assaulted, then know that the way that you react
and the support you provide is really important to them and can affect the way
they experience trauma in the future,” Pomona Advocate Eli Longnecker PO ’14 said. “Believing, listening, not asking victim-blaming questions, going at
their pace are essential for good support.”
One of the points emphasized was
that 80 percent of sexual assault survivors know the perpetrator.
“At a college campus, we should be
more aware of dating violence and intimate partner violence … so having ways to
deal with that situation, knowing that you probably know the person who did it, and knowing that is going to be a complication for you because people that we
like do bad things,” Longnecker said.
The topic of consent came up several times during the panel discussion, and panelists addressed informational resources regarding the definition of consent and how to respond when consent is not given.
“One of the reasons people don’t report [sexual assault] is because it has been so
stigmatized,” Lukomnik said. “In talking about sexual assault and rates of sexual assault,
bringing up resources available is a great way for people to work through if
they are a survivor and also to prevent sexual assault.”
Lukomnik also discussed the importance of continued dialogue about sexual assault.
“Having discourse makes it open, raises
consciousness and awareness, and reduces rates of sexual assault,” he said.
Other events taking place to raise
awareness about sexual assault during the month of April include a Get Wet for
Consent Carnival at the Pitzer clock tower on April 24 as well as the Take
Back the Night Walk, which begins at 8 p.m. the same day at Pomona’s Bridges Auditorium.
“If it affects one person in our
community, it affects our entire community,” said Addison Calcagnini PZ ’15, a representative of HEO and Pitzer’s Smart Sex Society. “It affects how we see things and
how we interact with each other, and every way we talk about assault is
contributing to or reducing rape culture in our world.”
Resources about sexual assault and domestic violence can be found at 7csexualmisconductresources.claremont.edu.