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Wearing denim for a purpose


Denim is worn today to raise awareness to sexual assault and t-shirts with personal experiences written on them are hanging in the mall.

The Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction in 1998, because the victims jeans were too tight, therefore she must have helped to take them off, consenting to the encounter, according to The East Bay Times.

Wearing jeans on the anniversary of the decision has become a symbol against sexual violence, and Pierce College has participated in Denim Day since 2002, as a part of Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Lara Wong, a first year Student Engagement Coordinator, Counselor and co-adviser for the ASO, primary role in her position is to support students on campus. Her role with the ASO provides her with an opportunity to work with student leaders within student government who are representing the student voice on campus.

This is Wong’s first opportunity to experience Denim Day, she looks forward to continuing this awareness day on the future.

“The actual Denim Day started with the act of wearing tight jeans being misinterpreted kind of like saying this person was wearing something risqué so she deserved to be assaulted,” Dr. Conrady Wong said.

The ASO handed out flyers Tuesday on The Mall, inviting students to wear denim for a purpose for the event taking place today.

“I expect a lot of people to show solidarity in wearing denim,” Wong said. “This is a time for Pierce to come together as a campus community in order to show awareness for the issue.”

Director of the Student Health Center Beth Benne was part of the Campus Violence Response Team, that organized events for Denim Day since 2007.

Kathy Oborn, the department chair of Criminal Justice, Political Science, Chicano Studies and Economics, wrote in an email that Denim Day began at Pierce in 2002 when it was a volunteer group of faculty and staff. It was part of a grant that the University of Southern California wrote and incorporated the Los Angeles Community College District.

At the time, the only mandated sexual assault reporters were Benne and the female deputy. Since October 2014, with Title IX, anybody who is paid by the college with the exception of mental health providers, is a mandated reporter of sexual assault, according to Benne.

“I’m very curious to see how Denim Day will go,” Benne said. “I’m excited that the students are running it, that’s an ultimately wonderful thing and it’s phenomenal.”

The results from the health survey that the student health center sent out indicated that 11 percent of female respondents are in an emotionally abusive intimate relationship.

“I think the biggest number is that 11 percent of our female respondents are involved in an emotional abusive intimate relationship,” Benne said. “Maybe they’re not physically abused but emotionally they are and anybody who is a victim of abuse, we know that it involves the physical and emotional.”

Wong said that the Student Health and Advisory Committee (SHAC) are planning to show a movie called, “Hunting Ground” which the premise is sexual assault on college campuses.

“They’re in the process of viewing it themselves just to be sure they can be great hosts for it and the rest of the campus,” Wong said.

This is an issue that affects all ages of college students, but it has recently been trending nationally where it’s a problem and has been on college campuses that we see on the news, according to Wong

Wong wants to provide an opportunity for Pierce to raise awareness to everyone to learn what Denim Day is and that it’s a social awareness about an epidemic that’s recently been affecting college students and college campuses.

“We are very lucky to have the sheriff’s office to oversee us and protect us, but I think our best source of protection is each other,” Wong said. “If we see someone struggling we know who to call and be able to step up.”

According to the website rainn.org, women in college ages 18-24 are three times more likely than women in general to suffer from sexual violence. About eight percent of all sexual assaults occur when the victim attends college.

Sheriff’s Station Team Leader Deputy Al Guerrero confirmed that there has not been sexual assault reports since the beginning of last year. All the deputies on campus have training on how to handle these situations.

“People don’t realize that the deputies on campus have worked the field, meaning different cities, before coming to colleges,” Guerrero said. “We are not exclusively just campus police.”

Guerrero suggests for students to always be aware of their surroundings, walk where there are people, and not park at a far distance from the campus.

In case of emergency students can call the sheriff’s station number (818) 719-6450 which is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week even campus is closed or on holiday. The emergency contact number is 4311.

“We just want Pierce to be a welcoming and safe community for everyone and I think anytime we can have an event that educates students about safety is great,” Wong said.