Spike in Sexual Assaults has Students on Edge
March 8, 2017
One in three women in the world will become a victim of violence or sexual assault in their lifetime, according to a 2017 campaign to end violence against women by One Billion Rising.
In the U.S., every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. Every year, 321,500 Americans age 12 and older are victims of sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
One in five college-aged women becomes a victim of sexual assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. This is the case across the state and the country.
What this means is that approximately 3,278 of the 16,125 women [FCC’s 2014-2015 student success scorecard] attending Fresno City College have experienced sexual assault.
“The United States has one of the highest rape cultures in the world,” Karen Moseley, professor of women’s studies at FCC, said. “We are very lackadaisical about dealing with the concept of rape or what rape is.”
Women’s History Month began March 1 and is a reminder of the many issues women still face including sexual assault and rape.
But what is sexual assault?
Sexual assault refers to unwanted touching, caressing or groping and may also be called sexual battery. Attempted rape and forcing victims to perform sexual acts are also considered sexual assault.
Because rape involves sexual penetration without consent, it’s often distinguished from sexual assault, but may still be included in the definition.
Reportedly, a man groped a woman in the Fresno City College library on Feb. 22, but he was released due to lack of evidence, said the State Center Community College District police.
As of March 7, a warrant for Fidel Isaac Tafoya’s arrest on charges of sexual battery has been sent to the district attorney’s office, according to Jose Flores, chief of SCCCD police.
According to Flores, since March 2, there have been four reports of sexual assault on the FCC Campus. These cases all involved sexual battery.
There were four cases of sexual battery reported in 2016. In 2015, there was one case reported involving sexual battery.
District police now plan to be more visible on campus in response to the recent report.
How do we prevent sexual assault?
Preventing sexual assault involves everyone from the police to the students.
“There are a lot more people than there are police,” Flores said. “We [the SCCCD police] can’t be everywhere all the time. We must all be vigilant.”
Three factors that can create a crime are the suspect, the victim and the location.
Flores said students can be proactive by being aware of their surroundings, walking in groups and trying to avoid locations where crime rates are high.
FCC, however, should not be a location where crimes should occur, said Flores. Part of the SCCCD police’s plan is to eliminate the location factor of the triangle.
An escort service is available for students. A police department member will walk students or staff members to a part of the campus or to their vehicle.
Some students said they were concerned about their safety after hearing stories about sexual assault on campus.
Hawon Jang, art major, said she is feeling anxious after hearing about students being sexually assaulted in the parking lots on campus.
Jang said that since she was an international student, her counselor suggested she avoid taking night classes for safety reasons. Jang said other students may want to take the same precautions.
“I think the police could be more present at night,” Shauna Floyd, communications major said. “Our campus could have more emergency phones.”
On the other hand, one student said she felt safe because she had never heard of sexual assault crimes occurring on campus.
“I never really heard about the campus not being safe,” Yuna Sakamoto, art major, said. “So, I don’t really think about that.”
According to Moseley, the word prevention can’t be applied to cases involving sexual assault.
Moseley said that addressing the issue is a more accurate phrase, and education about sexual assault is a way for people to help protect themselves and others.
Although this month is highlighting women’s experiences, men can also be victims of sexual assault.
“Men should be careful as well,” Gagan Singh, pharmaceuticals major, said. “It’s generalized that mostly women are attacked, but anything could happen to anyone.”
The FCC community was notified on March 3 that a male subject exposed himself and began “performing a lewd act” in front of a male student on March 1.
Sexual assault victims can seek immediate help at the Health Services Center, located in the Student Services office, Room 112.
Victims can speak with a nurse about assault and may be referred to Psychological Services for further consultation.
Students may also contact the campus wide safety senator, Martin Guadalupe, with any safety concerns at 559-283-1861.
If students are victims of sexual assault or want to use the escort service, they can contact the SCCCD police at 559-244-5911.