Brianna Hawkins, Communications Intern interviews Maya, Southern University student
As the red zone period continues, LAFASA continues to bring as much awareness as possible to this plight that college students face. We felt that to really understand how sexual assault prevention should be approached to college students, we needed to go to the source. This month we have decided to interview one of our red zone campus ambassadors.
Brianna H: Would you like to remain anonymous?
Maya J: No.
Brianna H: What school are you attending?
Maya J: The Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Brianna H: What is your classification (freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior)?
Maya J: I am a junior double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Political Science
Brianna H: How old are you?
Maya J: 20 years old
Brianna H: Why did you decide to become a Red Zone campus ambassador?
Maya J: To be totally transparent, I became a Red Zone campus ambassador because it was at no expense, but I could gain valuable lessons and work skills from it. In addition, I have a passion for justice and helping other people, especially when I have experienced sexual assault myself. I aspire to be a Civil Rights Attorney, so this would benefit my career!
Brianna H: What is your opinion on sexual assault awareness?
Maya J: I believe that sexual assault awareness is receiving more attention in today’s society, but some individuals do not take it as serious or do not realize small actions that can be considered sexual assault. For example, convincing a woman to indulge in sex with you is sexual assault, and many people may not be aware of this.
Brianna H: Do you feel anything has influenced your view of sexual assault?
Maya J: Sexual assault has affected the people around me and me, so it is a topic that is close to my personal life.
Brianna H: As a college student, how do you feel about the way universities and their staff address sexual assault? Do you feel that they do enough?
Maya J: Universities often sweep sex scandals under the carpet to avoid a bad reputation. I hope that universities begin to advocate and spread more awareness regarding sexual assault.
Brianna H: How do you feel about the safety on your campus?
Maya J: I have heard a few stories of sexual assault on campus, and many victims are afraid to come forward. I think most people are afraid to come forward due to victim-blaming.
Brianna H: How do you think sexual assault safety on your campus should change and what kind of resources do you think should be added?
Maya J: There should be a sexual assault awareness club on campus – maybe I can start one! I am making a difference by being an ambassador, and I am proud of myself for that.
Brianna H: In what way do you think society plays a role in how sexual assault is addressed by your peers, especially in a college environment?
Maya J: Society, especially social media, plays a major role in how sexual assault is addressed in the college community. If society deems it as irrelevant or exaggerated, then most college students will feel this way. If more female and male students speak up about their experience and acknowledge it, I believe it could save a lot of lives.
Brianna H: Do you view sexual assault as something primarily involving women or do you think everyone has a role in how sexual assault remains prevalent in our society and in preventing it?
Maya J: Everyone definitely has a role in how sexual assault remains prevalent in our society. It is not a gender-specific topic; it can affect anyone despite age, race, religion, etc. We, as a society, have to advocate for victims and inform people of the forms and warning signs of sexual assault. LAFASA is already making a step in the right direction.
Brianna H: How do you feel about victim-blaming? Do you think it is a symptom of rape culture? If so, how do you think it can be changed?
Maya J: Instead of teaching women to dress or act a certain way, we should be teaching men to respect women and vice-versa. Victim-blaming is a concept that an unaware, misogynistic individual indulges in. Rape culture plays a part, but false rape accusations play a role, too. It can be difficult to trust women as a whole when a few of them lie about their experiences, but a few bad apples should not rot the whole tree.
Brianna H: What is your opinion on the way sexual assault is addressed with different minorities (males, different sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, etc.)? Do you feel something needs to change?
Maya J: In my opinion, men tend to be more apathetic or nonchalant towards sexual assault than women. It should be noted that I am a Christian, and I wish the church held an open space for sex-related topics. This would benefit a lot of victims.
Brianna H: How do you feel about consent, do you think it is something clear and straightforward or more complex?
Maya J: Consent can be given in various ways besides a verbal “yes.” Boundaries should be communicated between both partners before they engage in sex [activities].
Brianna H: What is your opinion on how students can remain safe on campus when it comes to sexual assault prevention?
Maya J: Know your worth! You do not have to have sex to feel like your life matters. If you do decide to engage in sex, then communicate your boundaries with your partner. [Prevention is ultimately in the hands of the perpetrator.]2
LaFASA thanks Maya for her candidness regarding sexual assault on campus. We appreciate her service as an ambassador. Maya exemplifies the the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Ghandi We know our world is going to be better as long as there are “more Mayas” willing to stand up and make a difference.
1. Stats from most sources indicate as few as 3% of claims are false.
2. Most assaults occur between acquaintances when an individual overtakes another, despite consent not being given. It can be two people dating or married; it could be a friend, a neighbor, a classmate, a teacher, etc. It can happen on campus or off campus. SEXUAL ASSAULT IS ALWAYS THE FAULT OF THE PERPETRATOR! Saying, “No” comes in many forms. If there isn’t a clear, “yes” to continue, then assume the person is saying, “no.” Coming forward after an assault is a form of healing and one of the many ways survivors can feel self-value.
To find out more about Myths vs Facts surrounding sexual assault, visit LaFASA’s website at lafasa.org/main/myths_and_facts .