On Tuesday, the ASUC Office of the President launched its second Cal Consent Week, building on a campaign launched around Halloween last semester to promote the importance of consent in sexual activity.
Spearheaded by the office’s sexual assault task force, the Cal Consent Campaign designed various workshops throughout the week to “start a dialogue around sexual assault,” said Alana Baum, co-chair of the task force.
Cal Consent Week kicked off its first event Tuesday evening with approximately 70 students attending a workshop designed for leaders of student organizations to learn how to respond to sexual assault and promote consent in different communities on campus.
The following night, the campaign hosted an event that gave an overview of the history of student activism about sexual assault on college campuses, including two complaints filed Feb. 26 by 31 current and former UC Berkeley students with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging campus mishandling of sexual assault cases.
Although the campaign is not working to change campus policies on sexual assault, Cal Consent Week is trying to “tackle (sexual assault) from different angles,” Baum, a UC Berkeley senior, said. “There needs to be individual, community and institutional approaches because they are a part of the same fight.”
Thursday night will consist of a “Survivor Solidarity Circle,” in which survivors of sexual assault will gather to share their thoughts, experiences and support for one another.
“We are giving students the tools to talk about (consent and sexual assault) and creating solidarity around this topic, which is often an alienating one,” Baum said.
The final workshop of the week will be held Friday afternoon and will provide a comprehensive overview about consent, including how to give consent in various social situations.
Although the Cal Consent Campaign was created under the direction of ASUC President DeeJay Pepito, who promised to address the campus climate surrounding sexual assault during her presidential campaign last spring, students hope to see their work continue in the future.
“I am personally very happy that we are providing an effective week of programming,” said Austin Pritzkat, Pepito’s chief of staff and co-chair of the sexual assault task force. “My goal … is to explore opportunities to institutionalize and make permanent the ASUC’s commitment to addressing sexual assault.”
In addition to efforts undertaken by students, the campus administration recently promised additional support and protection for sexual assault survivors. On Feb. 25, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced that the administration will provide new resources, including hiring another investigator in the the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination to further facilitate and accelerate the investigation of sexual assault and harassment cases.
“At Berkeley, we will do what is necessary to create and sustain a culture of prevention and reporting within our community,” Dirks said in an email.
The campuswide effort to raise awareness about issues regarding consent and sexual assault will continue in April during the national Sexual Assault Awareness Month.