SDSU hosts local universities for talk on sexual assault

by Colleen Larson, Staff Writer

Alumni and students of San Diego universities and colleges came together for a forum titled ‘Building a Movement Against Sexual Assault’ on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The meeting, held in the Center for Intercultural Relations of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, aimed to address the recent sexual assaults that have happened on campus at San Diego State and in the San Diego community as a whole.

The panel of speakers included students and alumni from SDSU; University of California, San Diego; California State University, San Marcos; and San Diego City College. All of the speakers are involved in movements aimed to combat sexual assault and gender oppression. The discussion centered around the problem of sexual assaults, on and off campus, as well as ways in which the community and schools can move forward while supporting the women assaulted.

Concerned Students member and SDSU American Indian studies senior Jordan Busse was among the panelists. Busse spoke about her concerns in the way the administration deals with the sexual assaults that have occurred in recent months.

“Besides the crime alerts the university never openly addressed the sexual assaults,” Busse said. “Saying nothing about the sexual assaults that happened at the beginning of the year protects no one but the rapists.”

Busse also encouraged more students to join SDSU’s Title IX Sexual Violence Task Force. The Task Force is made up of students, faculty, staff and administrators who are working to develop a campus campaign regarding sexual assault awareness and prevention.

“Our stated initiatives are part of a comprehensive approach to change the culture, behavior and attitudes that cause sexual violence on our campus,” the university’s Title XI website reads. “This significant cultural change must be accomplished collectively and we encourage all members of our community to participate in this ongoing conversation.”

SDSU alumna Alicia Nichols, who received a master’s in women’s studies, was also a panelist at the meeting. Nichols is a feminist and labor organizer. She spoke about the power of organized events and protests, such as the recent “Take Back the Night” movement in which participants rallied against sexual assault by marching through local college campuses and parks.

“Organized events such as ‘Take Back the Night” give community support to the victims of sexual assault,” Nichols said.

After the panelist’s speeches the audience was allowed to make comments and ask questions. The concern of fraternities and sexual assaults was a common topic brought up.

“Making the fraternities seem like villains only hurts our cause,” Carla Barrientos, sociology senior and the Cultural Diversity Representative for the Student Veteran Organization, said. “Instead we should empower the Greek system and create a cohesive discourse in which everyone can get involved with.”

The audience also spoke about ways to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assaults.

“There is already a movement happening and activist groups that are putting in work,” Aztecs for Awareness member Tanisha Duke-Scorza said. “Meetings like this are good way to get together, create ideas and find ways to reach out to students that are not able to attend the events.”