ASU organizations recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

Students learn about sexual consent at black dress event

By Kierstyn Wiley
On April 19, 2019

Photo by Ian Saint: Students show their support of victims by making buttons to raise awareness for sexual consent.

The Multicultural Center teamed up with Title IX and Counseling Services April 10 to host an event to raise awareness of the importance of sexual consent. 
The event, Little Black Dress Doesn’t Mean Consent, brought students and faculty to Room 114 in the Houston Harte University Center to discuss why consent should be talked about in relationships.

“You should never feel like your problems are not relevant,” said Aaron Espinoza, student assistant for the Multicultural Center. “You will be heard; you will be understood. This is a really big problem, so it takes big steps to move forward. It can be hard sometimes, but don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel afraid, because the help is out there.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which seemed like the perfect time to discuss the subject of consent.
 “Multicultural Affairs is very invested for all communities and, in April, we like to provide a little more education about what it is to be in safe relationships and what it is to have consent,” said Erika Baeza, director of multicultural and student activities programs. 

The workers gave students the opportunity to ask questions about why consent is an issue and how it should be handled.
“I know firsthand what it is and what problems can arise from it and, for me, I want people to be aware that it’s okay to come forward regardless if you’re male or female,” Espinoza said. “It’s a shame thing, but we want everybody to know you can come forward.”
The event was black dress and black tie, which helped those in attendance understand that even when someone may look nice, there should always be communication about what should happen next. 

“Those are important conversations to have so we don’t have suffering populations on campus; so bad things don’t happen,” Baeza said. “If we’re proactive about it, then we’ll have a safer campus. All we want is for you guys to thrive in your college experience.”

Many people don’t report misconduct, but the three organizations encourage everyone who experiences harassment or assault to report it.
“It’s important because everyone deserves to be respected, loved and cared for without fear,” Baeza said. “We need to give a voice to those who cannot speak and give that psychological and emotional support. We’re all humans. We all deserve the same thing equally, and we want people to know what healthy relationships are so they don’t fall into the bad ones.”

Those in attendance had the opportunity to make buttons with different phrases on them to support victims of negative sexual experiences.
Students were also given diffuser bottles and light-up cups to take home with them.

“My advice is to be direct,” Baeza said. “I know it’s uncomfortable a lot of times, but it’s part of the college experience to start building your identity, and building your voice, and that’s super important. Your ‘no’ must mean a ‘no,’ and ‘yes’ a ‘yes,’ and it must be understood as that, as well. I think that if we have more of those conversations, we’ll have less of the violence or any of the awkwardness in any relationship.” 

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