California State University, San Bernardino students are hosting events on campus this month to raise awareness of sexual assault. Since 2001, April has been declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The student group Violence Outreach Informing our Community with Education, or VOICE, hosts weekly meetings and multiple events in April to educate students about sexual assault and violence prevention.
VOICE was founded during the 2016 Winter Quarter by graduate student Marina Rodriquez. Rodriguez is an advocate at the counseling center on campus, and is pursuing her second masters degree in counseling and guidance at the CSUSB College of Education.
A cohort of students joins VOICE each year, and they complete a mandatory 12 hour initial training which is followed by weekly meetings throughout the year. The cohort typically consists of 18 to 24 students, with around 10 being new recruits according to Rodriguez.
Recruitment for VOICE begins every Spring quarter, consisting of an email to all students and informative flyers posted around campus.
“I interview them during finals week, then I train them, they do homework over the summer, and then train again before school starts,” said Rodriguez
Sonia Gama is a CSUSB sociology student who has been a member of VOICE since Fall of 2018.
Gama joined VOICE because she believes in their mission of educating the community about sexual assault. “By educating others we’re bringing awareness of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking,”she says.
Gama attends each meeting and said that they are all very informative.
Each weekly meeting features a guest speaker. “We always try to bring in an expert on something for personal and professional development,” Rodriguez explained.
The most recent VOICE meeting occurred Friday April 12 in the College of Education.
Chris Hoff, who has a doctorate in of philosophy, and is also known as “The Radical Therapist” on YouTube, spoke with VOICE about “How patriarchy affects men and their relationships.”
Hoff is a full time faculty member at CSUSB who teaches educational counseling courses for the counseling and guidance department in the COE.
Hoff introduced patriarchy by showing his most popular video from his YouTube channel, then leading an open discussion about the topic.
Hoff debunks the common saying of “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” by explaining, “As a relational therapist I’ve met with hundreds of heterosexual couples and at this time have determined that men are from Earth and women are from Earth, but unfortunately, both under the strong influence of patriarchy.”
Patriarchy is defined in Hoff’s video by Arthur Allen Johnson as, “a society that is male dominated and male centered in which both men and women participate.”
Rodriguez invited Hoff to speak on this topic after viewing the YouTube video as it “relates to our mission, because violence prevention is so rooted in gender equality. So learning about patriarchy I think kind of deepens some of the stuff they’ve already learned,” Rodriguez said.
Topics of the upcoming meetings include “Bridging the Empathy Gap: Changing Minds with the Power of Counter-Narratives” presented by Edwin Hernandez of the CSUSB counseling and guidance program, and “PTSD and Military Sexual trauma” presented by Christina Hassiji of the CSUSB psychology program.
The events in April sponsored and co-held by VOICE are the Teal Color Day, Teal Color Fest, Rape Culture 101, Teal Me Your Story, Denim Day and The Clothesline Project, and Take Back the Night.
Teal is the color adopted as a symbol of sexual assault awareness.
All of the events are being held to raise awareness and educate the CSUSB community about sexual assault.
More information on each event can be found online on the VOICE event page at www.csusb.edu/survivor-advocacy-services/programs-events