Students, staff and visitors of Cypress college may have witnessed or been treated from events that the Health Center had organized throughout the end of the month. April marks Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and Cypress students and staff did their part to spread information to everyone on campus.
Organized events by the Health Center were publicized such as Denim Day and Movies for Mental Health on April 22nd or the Clothesline Project and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) Resource Fair on April 23rd. One event on April 22nd that went unannounced was an organized flash mob dance, which took place on the campus complex by several dance classes as a lighthearted and fun way to raise awareness for the importance of the month.
The Health Center presented four events on Cypress’ campus in order to grow attention and information about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Denim Day was the first of these events, which originated from a story of a 1998 court case in Italy. The Italian Supreme Court released the rapist of an 18 year old girl and was dropped of all charges. The court decided the victims jeans were too “tight” to remove by the assailant alone, finding the rape as consensual sex and ultimately freeing the perpetrator.
Women in the Italian Parliament and Senators in California protested by wearing jeans thus creating Denim Day. April 24th is recognized as Denim Day where it is encouraged to wear denim to raise awareness of sexual assault. Cypress College Health Center gave out flyers at their tables telling the story and reasoning behind the important day.
On Tuesday, April 23, the campus complex was decorated with bright colored t-shirts on a clothesline, signs with statistics about sexual assault, and information tables filled with health counselors and nursing students.
Though it was for a serious cause, the event had a fair-like atmosphere, with treats, a speaker playing music, and decorations. The purpose of the Clothesline Project was not only to hold up vibrant colored t-shirts from tree to tree, but to allow the stories of victims of assault, abuse and domestic violence to be shared to those who stopped by. These stories were written or represented on the t-shirts displayed.
This project was used to express the emotion and views from victims of rape, human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other issues associated with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This eye catching display was paired with white signs in the grass which gave out shocking facts and statistics about sexual assault such as, “One in 5 women, and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college,” and “98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.”
All of the Health Center faculty showed up to support the event, such as nurses, counselors, and educators. Krista Chavez-Camacho, a health educator at Cypress College, organized and led the activities that day in the complex. She was able to comment and explain the events and reaction towards it. Chavez-Camacho stated that Cypress College held a, “resource fair to learn more about prevention and advocating for sexual assault survivors.” She believes that students can and should learn about engaging in affirmative consent and respecting boundaries to avoid miscommunication, and to encourage respect for the autonomy of all people.
Camacho expresses how significant it is to include everyone in these events, “for everyone on campus”, and how important it is that Cypress has a “very diverse group of students with different backgrounds.” She notes how the timing of the event works well with today’s #Metoo movement, which helps “to bring a platform,” allowing for a public eye and compassion and empathy for victims.
The college recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month with their own organized events throughout the campus complex. This effort is to spread information and attention to victims of sexual assault, and ultimately give them a voice to tell their story at Cypress College.