campus Organizations Team up to Spread Awareness About Sexual Assault

by: Emma Springer

The UCI International Center, UCI Student Wellness & Health Promotions, UCI Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) and the UCI International Student Excellence Program teamed up to host a program directed at international students to increase awareness and knowledge about sexual assault last Thursday.

The event, titled “‘Not Here, Not Anywhere!’ Fighting Sexual Assault Together,’” walked students through what defines sexual assault and how to handle it, educating them on how to navigate their sexual health. Following an incident last quarter involving sexual assault allegations against an international student at UCI, the program coordinators hope to make this an annual event.

Rosanna Cacace-Zakhir, the Violence Prevention Coordinator at the UCI CARE office, presented with Ke Zheng from the International Dots group, on CARE office services. They emphasized that their CARE advocates are confidential resources and are there to provide guidance.

Cacace-Zakhir and Zheng educated the audience on the best way to help people who have been affected by sexual assault, as well as what constitutes as sexual assault.

Mitra DeSouza, Counselor and coordinator for the International Student Excellence Program, wanted to “touch on things that are culturally different.”

“There’s also a real social stigma in certain cultures about sexual assault, and people are scared to report it. They blame themselves,” DeSouza said.

In Cacace-Zakhir and Zheng’s presentation, they explained that statistics for last year’s undergraduate sexual assaults show 49 percent as relationship abuse, 36 percent as sexual assault, and 15 percent as stalking. 10 percent of these reports were from international students.

Beth England-Mackie, the Assistant Director and Sexual & Relationship Health Programs Manager for UCI Student Wellness and Health Promotion, spoke on the importance of STI screenings and, more so, the importance of informing oneself. She encouraged the mindset of thinking of sexual health just the same as physical health.

“So we want students to really understand they have a voice, and that there’s things they can do, and we don’t want sexual assault to happen to any of our students,” and “to know this is for them,” DeSouza added.

All of the coordinators encouraged a need to create dialogue about sexual awareness. They encouraged students to share the information with their friends and always encourage a safe space.