Multiple campus organizations gathered at the Plaza Del Sol in the University Student Union on Dec. 1, inviting California State University, Northridge students to the event, It’s On Us. The event aimed to educate CSUN students about sexual violence and rape prevention.
“We, as a community, take a stand to fight sexual violence on campus,” said Susan Hua, Title IX coordinator and chair of the sexual violence committee at CSUN. “It’s about education and a proper support system that includes everyone on campus.”
Participating organizations included the Women’s Research Center, Veterans Resource Center, Pride Center, Department of Police Services, CSUN Helpline, Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE), Blues Project, Strength United and Project D.A.T.E. (Discovering Alternatives for Today’s Encounters).
The main event organizer, Project D.A.T.E., is a campus initiative to prevent sexual assault by educating CSUN students on the psychological, medical and cultural issues of rape. Sponsored by University Counseling Services and Strength United — a CSUN community agency assisting survivors of domestic violence, rape and child maltreatment — Project D.A.T.E. also raises awareness about the stigma surrounding rape.
“It can happen to anyone at any age, no matter what gender or sexual orientation you have,” said Lucy Le, head instructor of Project D.A.T.E.. She noted that according to national statistics, the youngest reported rape victim was seven months old, and the oldest was 70 years old.
During the It’s On Us event, the organizations provided information and giveaways such as pens, stickers and magnets to educate students on campus resources that help and support victims of sexual assault.
“Our partner organizations are wonderful resources on campus, supporting sexual violence victims,” Hua said. “But we also need to take preventive measures and encourage people to engage if somebody observes aggressive behavior.”
A common myth about rape is that sexual violence usually is perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys, Le said.
In fact, 85 percent of rapes are carried out by acquaintances, she said. Rape often doesn’t happen for the sake of sex, but is an act of violence to demonstrate power and control. The participating organizations at the event tried to educate students on these myths and facts.
It’s On Us also included a self-defense workshop, relaxation and yoga sessions and a talk about rape culture. A highlight of the event was the screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about how various U.S. colleges and universities deal with sexual violence and its perpetrators.
Le, who joined Project D.A.T.E. in 2013, encouraged students to get involved, whether in the campus organizations or by confronting suspicious people — even if it feels uncomfortable.
“I feel comfortable talking about tough topics, so I wanted to use this for a good cause,” Le said. “This is one of the most important causes on campus. Sexual violence is a huge deal, and I don’t want this issue to be swept under a rug.”
For more information on Project D.A.T.E., visit http://www.csun.edu/counseling/project-date.