This story was updated at 5 p.m. on Oct. 1 to update the story with new information.
Effective June 2015, every campus in the California State University (CSU) system will be required to provide an on-campus advocate to support survivors of sexual assault.
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced last week that the system will voluntarily implement provisions of the Survivor Outreach and Support Act, which was introduced to United States Congress in July. The act parallels a plan proposed this month by University of California officials also meant to combat sexual assault on campus.
Both the UC and CSU programs fall in line with the “It’s on Us” campaign launched by the White House to combat sexual violence on college campuses.
Having a survivor advocate on campus will dramatically increase awareness and the likelihood that a rape will be reported, said Interim Director for the CSUF WoMen’s Center Mary Becerra.
The WoMen’s center already provides the advocate services the SOS Act requires, Becerra said.
“I think it absolutely will change not only the resources that are available to students, but I think it is going to change how our campus responds to reports because the magnitude of reports will change,” Becerra said.
Sexual violence on college campuses has reached an epidemic level. one in four women and almost one in 16 men experience sexual violence at some point in their college career, Becerra said.
CSUF currently has a coordinated effort with Counseling and Psychological Services and with the Health Center known as the Title Nine Task Force.
“Rape and sexual assault is never a normative event. It’s not something that happens in somebody’s life and it’s just business as usual the next day,” Becerra said. “And sometimes, especially if the assault occurs on campus or occurs with another student, it changes the way they feel about being here, and we have to help that student and address that issue so that the students feel comfortable continuing to get their degree at CSUF.”
The new advocate’s job will consist of providing sexual assault victims with information on how to report an act of violence and on where they can receive medical care, crisis intervention counseling and victim rights and legal counseling.
The advocate will also be responsible for conducting an on-campus educational campaign to create awareness for students.
“(Victims) absolutely need an empathic listening ear and they need to move from a position of being a victim and powerless, into a position of being a survivor and power,” said sexual harassment and assault expert Kristi Kanel, Ph.D., a professor of human services.
There have been two reported rapes on campus this year, the first reports since 2010.
To report a rape, contact campus police at (657) 278-2515. In an emergency, dial 911.
Rapes can also be confidentially reported to the WoMen’s Center or the Student Health and Counseling Center.
If you have been raped and need counseling or other information, contact Counseling and Psychological Services at (657) 278-3040.