Breaking the silence on assault


CSUB students, faculty, staff and administration pose for a photo wearing their “It’s On Us” during the “Wear Your ‘It’s On Us’ Shirts” event on April 12. Photo courtesy of Mike Kwon

Esteban Ramirez



It’s on everyone at CSU Bakersfield.

One in every five college students experience sexual assault during their college career, while CSUB doesn’t have as high of reported sexual assault as other colleges, it is taking steps for prevention toward sexual assault.

The newly hired Campus Advocate and Education Coordinator Vanessa Corona said they are trying to help students so they don’t feel alone.

“We want to let people know that there are options and we want to help,” said Corona. “This affects everyone.”

Corona previously worked with sexual assault victims from ages 8 to 17.

“I knew it was something very important and something that I was very passionate about, but I also felt that there was more of a need on campus because this is where you come to be a better person and this can derail you from reaching your full-potential, which of course we would never want.

“This gives me the opportunity to work with different people from different backgrounds and different age ranges, and also, to really be a part of the prevention education. We want this to stop. We don’t want these to be issues any longer, and that’s why so much of my position is that prevention education.”

The “It’s On Us” campaign was an initiative that was started by President Barack Obama in response to students that are being sexually assaulted. The campaign is intended for students to join in and try to prevent it by saying it is really on the students.

ASI President Mike Kwon said he decided to make it a campus-wide initiative, which included administrators, faculty, staff and students to participate in the campaign.

“Beforehand, I thought it wasn’t a problem, but it’s happening at other campuses and it shouldn’t start here,” Kwon said. “The amount of unreported assaults on campus is tremendous, but when students see that they should be like, ‘oh my gosh it’s not being reported. What if it is happening here but it’s not being reported?’ Thankfully, our campus doesn’t have a high-rate, but it is still a good idea to educate students so that it does not happen.”

Kwon said ASI sent out a public service announcement video about the campaign and how it’s on the students to report sexual assault and help prevent it. Gender Equality Now hosted the “Hunting Ground” film screening on Jan. 28, which depicts the problems of rape and sexual assault for college students.

For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CSUB has scheduled various events. Sexual Assault Awareness Day will be today at the CSUB Antelope Valley campus. They will show the screening of “Hunting Ground.”  On April 23 at Celebrate CSUB, students will learn about prevention efforts and on campus resources pertaining to sexual misconduct at CSUB.

On April 26, CSUB will have a Brown Bag Discussion with Judy Snyder discussing “Sexual Assault in 1970s Bakersfield: A Story of Women Helping Women.”

Then on April 27, CSUB will host Denim Day: Change Our Culture. Change Our Campus.

The event will consist of everyone on campus dropping off denim in either the Student Union, the Walter Stiern Library or in Corona’s office in Modular 3.

CSUB students felt positive toward the “It’s On Us” campaign.

“I think it’s a good idea to help support awareness, especially with it being so big in college,” said senior criminal justice major Michael Nieto.

He added that something the university can do to help is have more security.

Senior computer science major Sabrina Smith said it’s a good idea to help people be more aware.

“I’ve experienced situations, so it’s like, it’s good that other people are being made aware of certain situations because I feel like a lot of people aren’t,” said Smith.

CSUB Equity Inclusion and Compliance and Assistant to President Claudia Catota said the Title IX advisory committee was in support of the campaign.

Catota said the problem is that people don’t want to report or come forward.

“We live in a culture that shames people,” said Catota. “’Well, why were you drinking so much? Why were you wearing that?’ As opposed to saying, ‘what can I do to help? Here are the resources.

“Let’s work together to make sure you get the assistance you need, so that’s why the ‘It’s On Us’ has been so crucial because ASI did a video to basically raise awareness among students.”

Catota said she thinks not enough incidents are being reported for the Clery Report, which requires colleges and campuses to report incidents of crimes on campuses.

Catota added students can go to for more options or resources.

“We really want to put the power in the hands of the survivor for them to pick the support that they need, whether it’s first coming to Vanessa or first coming to myself rather than them getting in a situation where they feel they lose all the control,” said Catota.

Corona said that confidential reports can be done with her or the Counseling Center.

Students can also report to the Health Center if there are suspicious injuries, but if it appears to be through sexual assault, it might have to be reported to University Police.

“We like to let people know if they come [to my office], I can explain what their further [actions] are, whether it is filing a report with UPD or Bakersfield Police Department and also Title IX on campus,” said Corona.

She said the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault has a 24-hour crisis line if incidents happen after hours. The number is (661) 322-0931.

Corona added even if the incident occurred off campus, students, faculty or staff should feel encouraged to report.

“If it did happen off campus, we do need to get BPD involved, but we also want people to see the correct medical care after such trauma takes place,” she said. “We also want folks to have an understanding of it.”

She said that if alcohol or drugs are involved, the university will overlook that and get to the bottom of what is really going on.

“People should never feel hesitant to report because of that,” said Corona.

Corona said always believe in what a friend tells you of a possible sexual assault.

“Offer your support,” she said. “Offer yourself as the person they can confide in and know that it is a very big responsibility that someone trusted you. I also recommend that anyone who is a family member, friend or partner of a victim that they come see me if they want any more resources or if they want any tips on how to move forward with listening and just being that strong support person.”