Cal State Fullerton students and campus officials came together Tuesday to “Walk for Change” against sexual assault and harassment for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The goal of the march was “to send a message of prevention to our community and call on all Titans to step up and keep our campus safe,” said Rebecca Ross, a health science major and intern at the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center (WARC).
Before the march began, students and interns came to the front of the group and shared the reasons they decided to participate.
“I saw firsthand how sexual violence and domestic violence affects families and children. As a U-2 intern, I’m here trying to educate high school and college kids about the effects of that and seeing full circle how that affects everybody,” said one demonstrator and intern for WARC.
The march began at the Housing Piazza and continued past the Kinesiology and Health Science building, Titan Shops, Titan Walk, through the Quad and back to the Piazza.
“I walk because like many of you, I know many people who have been impacted by these crimes and in my work, I see the effects of that,” said Alyssa Avila, a CSUF Violence Prevention Educator and Victim Advocate. “Not only do I see the challenges that victims and survivors face in healing, in seeking justice and holding their perpetrators accountable, but I also see the challenges and frustrations that folks who are dedicated to this work, how they face those frustrations every day as well.”
Participants held signs that read “End the Silence” and “Don’t Get Raped” with “get” and the “d” in “raped” crossed out reading “Don’t Rape.”
Participants also chanted “No matter where, no matter when, we will always take a stand!” and “Two, four, six, eight, no more date rape” as they walked through campus.
Eddie Lopez, a violence prevention educator at the WARC, also shared why he decided to participate in the march through a spoken-word poem called “People You May Know” by Kevin Kantor.
The poem was about the common mental and emotional effects that occur when a victim sees their attacker, Lopez said. He said the poem highlights the struggles of male victims which are not discussed as often as incidents that occur against women.
“It was interesting to see the victim or survivor be a male, and I just wanted to bring that to light here today,” Lopez said.
A collaboration of on-campus and off-campus organizations showed their support for survivors and promoted resources that are available to students who either know or have been a victim.
“Everyone is coming together and speaking out, and it just really makes it that much better,” Ross said.
The WARC, Student Life and Leadership, and Housing and Residential Engagement hosted the event.
Other organizations including Active Minds, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Titan Well, Community Service Programs (CSP), Title IX, Housing and Residence Life and the University Police Department (UPD) contributed to the success of the event, Ross said.
Cal State Fullerton hosts Sexual Assault Awareness month every April, Lopez said. They host different events like the “Walk for Change” attempt to reach survivors who may be silent and educate those who may not understand, Ross said.
“I don’t feel like everyone is going to understand, and I don’t expect everyone to understand. I think that’s kind of why we’re doing this because we want people to hear us out and ask those questions,” Ross said. “That gets them talking about what it is that we’re doing.”