Puffs of teal powder filled the air on April 19, as CSUSB students gathered to recognize sexual assault awareness month.
The library lawn was buzzing with different booths and activities, all hoping to inform students about the various resources that are offered on (and off) campus.
The Health Center had participants vote for their favorite celebrity couple. CSUSB Commuter Services encouraged students to spin their gaming wheel and win a prize. The Department of Housing passed out snow cones and popcorn.
However, through all the light-hearted games of Jenga, bean bag tosses and dance battles, powerful chanting could be heard across the lawn.
“When survivors’ lives are under attack, what do we do?”
“Stand up, fight back!”
In 2000, teal was chosen as the official color of Sexual Assault Awareness. Also, the month of April was designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
Violence Outreach Informing our Community with Education, also known as VOICE, organizes the Teal Color Fest for SAAM at CSUSB. VOICE is a group on campus that works to reduce sexual assault on campus. They also work to inform students about the various ways victims can safely speak up and move out of dangerous situations.
This was their second Teal Color Fest at the school.
This event is important because, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment.” However, “more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.”
VOICE hopes to change these statistics by making campus resources more visible and accessible. The Teal Color Fest is organized as a lively event in order to make it welcoming.
“Because it is such a serious topic, it can be hard to talk about,” said Peer Health Educator, Pangia Yang. “I think this is a good step in trying to bring awareness because most people don’t know this is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
The inspiration for the event comes from color runs. These consist of people running through clouds of different colors. VOICE incorporated this into SAAM last year. Instead of running, students stand in a circle and chant before dousing each other in teal powder.
Students also had the opportunity to enter various raffles. In order to enter, they had to complete a passport by visiting each booth and receiving a stamp.
The resources and booths that participated included Title IX and Gender Equity, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, VOICE, Alpha Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha, San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, Coyote Radio, Undocumented Student Success Center, and Commuter Services.
Counseling and Psychological Services had attendees answer trivia questions about their services in order to receive a stamp on their passport. They provide counseling to students free of charge as their services are already embedded in tuition fees. They even offer couples’ counseling as long as both partners are students at CSUSB.
Alpha Phi put a twist on Jenga. Students would pull out a Jenga piece that had a statement written on it. If they could correctly answer whether the statement is true or false, students would receive a stamp.
For example, “if someone doesn’t say no, they must be consenting.”
This is false.
San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services gave away coloring books and resource information.
VOICE gave out teal colored ribbons and information on how to become a VOICE advocate.
Because of the sensitive nature of their work, VOICE peers undergo extensive training.
“We recruit in the spring quarter,” said Survivor Advocate, Marina Rodriguez. “Me and the lead VOICE peers interview them. Then they’ll go through a 12-hour training in the beginning of the year and that’s how you join VOICE.”
This is just one of the many events they held for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Teal Me Your Story was held on April 23 in the SMSU Fourplex. This event was created as a safe space for survivors to tell their story.
For VOICE’s Take Back the Night event on April 25, Lorena Gallo (formerly Bobbitt) was invited as Keynote speaker. She made news in 1993 when she cut off her husband’s privates after being repeatedly abused by him.
These are just a few of the events that bring exposure to all of the resources offered to CSUSB students.
“It’s a topic that’s not really put out there as much,” said Rodriguez. “The most important thing isn’t just helping someone after they’ve been hurt. It’s equally important to stop people from getting hurt in the first place.”