A safer campus for all

Public safety, sexual assault, a safe zone workshop and upcoming events were some of the issues that were discussed during Monday’s Academic Senate meeting in the Great Hall.

The idea behind Safe Zones is to allow an area for students, staff and faculty to meet and discuss issues of gender and sexuality free of judgement and harassment, according to the Safe Zone Project’s website.

“It’s important to have these safe zones on campus,” said Maria Perser, a member of the Professional Development Committee. “Especially for the LGBTQ community to feel like there are faculty who support them and have allies here.”

The workshops are meant to train faculty to be an ally, according to Perser. A number of other LACCD campuses have similar programs, such as Los Angeles Mission College, East LA College and Harbor College.

The senate announced that Pierce College will feature a documentary called, “The Hunting Ground” on Oct. 27, 2016. This film documentary talks about the impact and raises awareness of sexual assaults on campus.

According to Director of the Health Center Beth Benne, all schools and colleges are enforced by Title IX, where by law all school administrations have a responsibility to respond promptly to any sexual harassment or sexual violence that creates a hostile environment. They must take immediate action by reporting it to the proper authorities that handle these cases.

“The main issue is how various colleges across country have responded or not responded to the allegations of sexual assault that students have made,” Benne said.

According Perser, it is important for the campus to show this documentary.

“It is necessary to have a dialogue on this issue and to know what our obligations are and to know who our Title IX coordinator is,” Perser said.

Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon Peters addressed the senate about the serious consequences of sexual assault.

“The importance of what we know from research and documentation is that one out of four women have been sexualy assaulted on a college campus,” Peters said. “If you look at that statistic, it is alarming that should you or anyone walk down campus and count one, two, three and four, that fourth person could possibly be a victim of sexual assault.”

According to Peters, the documentary will bring awareness to the prevalent problem of sexual assault.

“What are we doing as a community to address sexual assault on campus? I think the documentary will highlight on what students are experiencing on campus that is criminal,” Peters said.

Peters said that sexual assault is not just an issue that affects women but men are also victims. According to Peters, one out of seven men are sexually assaulted.

“It’s important that we have these conversations,” Peters said. “The documentary will highlight concerns and issues on college campuses.”

Peters said that he is involved in the formation of a panel at Pierce College relating to sexual assault prevention.

“Our panel is here to give staff and students the training they need to help reduce sexual assault crimes by being cautious to your surroundings and walking with someone to their car,” Peters said.

Art Gallery Director and Professor of Arts Monica Wee discussed the upcoming art exhibit, “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” which will run starting Nov.1.

The exhibit will have videos, text panels, and a co-creative living sculpture. After visitors watch the videos and read the texts in the gallery, they are encouraged to add a wish to the “wish canopy.”

“[The canopy] becomes a living sculpture in the sense that it becomes a reflection of how we, at Pierce, are responding to the information,” Wee said.

There will be information in the gallery about charities and organizations that help women and families in need.

“What do we do when we go and we look at this information?” Wee asked. “It kind of becomes a big downer, where the idea behind it is not that, but instead to say, ‘Here’s how we empower women’ and if we empower everyone around us, it ends up having this sort of ripple effect.

The art exhibit is part of the One Book One Campus program at Pierce in which the school discusses and plans events around a single book. This year’s book, “I am Malala”, by Malala Yousafzai, thematically revolves around global gender inequality.

Also discussed at the meeting, Academic Senate President Anna Bruzzese reported that the commencement committee has approved a $30,000 budget for next year’s graduation.

According to Bruzzese, the budget is a $10,000 increase from last year’s.

The commencement committee has also added a student representative to discuss what was effective during last year’s graduation and what can be improved.