Courtesy of Facebook
Following a sexual assault and an indecent exposure incident on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus in fall 2015, students Hannah Cagle, 19, and Melissa Debret, 19, set out to create a sexual assault resolution to improve education on the issue.
Cagle is the founder and president of the Feminists United club on campus and Student Government Assembly VP of student health. Cagle reached out to her peers last semester, wanting to inform students about sexual assault and develop an understanding of how many people are affected by it.
Cagle and Debret, treasurer of Feminists United, hosted a Take Back the Night march and consent workshop last semester to bring more awareness to the issue of sexual assault. The need for a resolution became more apparent after a young woman was attacked in August 2015 in the Barnett Hall restroom.
“I wanted to go a step further and get this [resolution] implemented and institutionalized,” Cagle said when recalling the incident, which fueled her determination to make real change happen.
Cagle said despite the array of resources and services available to support victims of sexual assault throughout the county, she doesn’t feel the college has done enough to prevent this ongoing and widely known social problem.
According to studies from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in 32 men will be victims of sexual abuse, most without ever reporting the incident. The statistics for college-aged adults who have been affected on college campuses are also strikingly high, and reported crimes are as low as 12 percent.
Debret pointed out that, although many UC campuses have adopted preventative procedures, SRJC has not implemented any additional educational or procedural programs to increase student safety.
“The biggest point in our resolution is drafting a virtual infrastructure for a mandatory sexual assault class all students will be required to take prior to being admitted to the institution, a practice that UCLA has already implemented,” Debret said.
The resolution also suggests information on how to report sexual assault to be more easily accessible to students both on campus and online. Debret emphasized the lack of clear resource information on the college website, citing the omission as a possible deterrent for victims seeking help.
The SGA recently finalized the resolution and was introduced to the Student Health Advisory Board, which received it well. Cagle and Debret hope to gain additional support from fellow student government associates to move this resolution from its grass roots beginning to fruition.
SRJC students are encouraged to show support by joining them for the upcoming Take Back the Night Part 2 Feb. 23. Students can also show their support by contacting Cagle or Debret directly to ask how to become more involved or attend a Feminist United meeting, held at 7 p.m. every Wednesday night in the Bertolini Center for Student Leadership.