A common response to victims of rape and sexual assault is that they are somehow responsible for provoking perpetrators through clothing or other behaviors. This type of response damages victims’ dignity — and is just plain false. That’s the no-holds-barred message California State University, Northridge’s Project D.A.T.E. (Discovering Alternatives for Today’s Encounters) aims to share with students and the wider community — along with debunking other myths surrounding rape and sexual assault.
Project D.A.T.E. is a peer education, date or acquaintance rape-prevention program sponsored by University Counseling Services and Strength United. The student peer educators of Project D.A.T.E. hosted their annual “It’s On Us” campus campaign, Nov. 29-30.
“It is extremely important for all students, faculty and staff on college campuses to be aware of campaigns like ‘It’s On Us,’ because it discusses a topic that is easily overlooked,” said Adriana Covarrubias, a peer educator and child and adolescent development sophomore at CSUN. “This topic is one that should be addressed and emphasized from a national level down to the students.”
On both days, ‘It’s On Us’ featured an information fair at the Plaza del Sol in the University Student Union to raise awareness of different issues involving sexuality, consent and abuse. Students visited the tables to learn more about the topics and take a pledge against sexual assault.
The campus campaign also included a “Stand Up, Speak Out!” bystander intervention workshop Nov. 29, which offered discussions and activities to help students develop strategies for how to be an “up-stander” against sexual assault, which means being actively committed to preventing sexual assault in situations where the risk of one increases. Peer educators and public health majors Adriana Gonzalez and Anna Mendez shared stories and tips with workshop participants, to encourage intervention in particular situations.
“Many students took the information very seriously, as they all had great questions, comments and feedback for the [information] and the workshop events,” Covarrubias said. “They were highly involved in the [pledge] to stop sexual violence, including being an up-stander instead of a bystander.”
Later that day, peer educator Lubna Hindi discussed how pop culture and media often normalize sexual violence and assault against women, in her workshop “Rape Culture Within Pop Culture.”
On Nov. 30, peer educators Jasmine Sanchez and Jeanette Espinoza — along with Stacey Nowak, crime prevention and Matador Patrol specialist with CSUN Department of Police Services — educated students about safety resources on and off campus, in a workshop called “Tools for Safety, Knowledge for Change.”
In the evening, Project D.A.T.E. hosted a screening and discussion of Audrie & Daisy, a documentary about three high school-age rape victims.