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New Title IX leader seeks to prevent sexual assault at CSULB

While reports of sexual assault on college campuses rise, Jeane Caveness and staff will support victims ‘after experiencing violation, betrayal and the devastation of sexual trauma.’

Jason Enns, Staff Writer

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Administration has selected Jeane Caveness as new Title IX Coordinator at Cal State Long Beach, effective as of Jan. 1, 2016.

Caveness’ duties are to ensure that once the university is put on notice of an alleged violation there is a timely and fair investigation and steps are taken to prevent future reoccurrences.

She also initiates primary prevention programs such as Prevention Awareness Uniting Students with Empowerment, which seeks to actively train individuals with knowledge and skills to effectively assist in the prevention of sexual assaults.

The Title IX Coordinators, found in room 377 of Brotman Hall, ensure sexual assault survivors will know about their rights to confidential services and reporting options, and monitor gender equity in recruitment and admission of students into athletic programs.

“Dr. Caveness is very dedicated to her position as the Title IX Coordinator and has a wealth of experience and knowledge,” Candis Simmons-Davis, sexual assault victim advocate, said. “She cares very deeply for the students here, and also takes sexual misconduct and campus safety very seriously.”

CSULB is one of two CSU campuses that received a $200,000 grant from the California Office of Emergency Services Sexual Assault Program in 2015 that allowed the school to hire Simmons-Davis full time.

“I am a certified rape crisis counselor who is available to provide confidential support to CSULB students who have been affected by sexual violence or misconduct,” Simmons-Davis said in an email. “It’s important because you have the opportunity to help an individual to heal and regain themselves (their safety, their sense of trust, their peace) after experiencing violation, betrayal and the devastation of sexual trauma.”

The grant also funded the Not Alone @ The Beach Campaign, a campus and community partnership invested in providing support to student survivors of sexual misconduct.

The number of women who have experienced and reported some form of sexual assault while attending college is alarmingly high; 1-in-5 women are victimized by sexual misconduct, according to The Campus Sexual Assault Study from 2007.

Lately, college campuses across America have undergone scrutiny from the media on the issue. Current studies show sexual misconduct at universities hasn’t improved.

In fact  it’s gotten worse.

Last year the Association of American Universities surveyed over 150,000 students from 27 different universities, and found that 23 percent of female students had experienced some form of sexual misconduct while attending school. This included everything from stalking to rape, and 11 percent indicated that the contact had proceeded to intercourse or oral sex.

At CSULB, when adding all incidences of dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, fondling and rape the school had 10 such reports in 2013 and eight in 2014, according to the Clery Report filed by campus police. There were four rapes reported to CSULB campus police in 2012, two in 2013 and none in 2014.

But just last semester, there were eight reports of various sexual misconduct. Officials don’t think this means in increase in incidences, just an increase in incident reports.

Sexual assault is a vastly under-reported crime.

According to surveys done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 17 percent of women reported “unwanted sexual behaviors … involving use of force, physical threat, or incapacitation,” yet only 11 percent marked “yes” when being asked directly if they had been “raped,” or “sexually assaulted.” Over 70 percent of the women surveyed said they didn’t think it was “serious enough to officially report,” and 44 percent said they “felt they were at least partly at fault, or it wasn’t totally the other person’s fault.”

California has taken steps toward a definitive qualification of sexual assault.

In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown enacted a student conduct policy requiring “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” This bill defined sexual consent as the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no.” Students who recently attended SOAR watched a presentation on this topic.

So how can students do their part to minimize this issue at CSULB?

“Students can look out for each other, especially in situations where alcohol is involved. Caveness said. “Most college-related sexual assaults are facilitated by alcohol.

“Don’t leave your friend alone or behind if she/he/they appear to be intoxicated. Whoever initiates sexual activity must ensure that affirmative consent has been obtained from the other party.”

Most victims also knew their assailant prior to the assault.

“Campus sexual assault usually occurs in the form of date or acquaintance rape,” Simmons-Davis said. “This means that usually the survivor is violated by someone they considered a friend or a significant other.”

Programs on topics such as healthy relationships, affirmative consent and stalking are available through the Women’s and Gender Equity Center, as well as a Rape Aggression Defense course taught by the University Police.

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