Safe Spaces program holds event to unify students
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Safe Spaces Day was held on Feb. 7 and was an event that raised awareness for the Safe Spaces program at Cosumnes River College. The program promotes an all-inclusive campus that strives to create a safe, open and bias-free learning environment for everyone.
This was the second year Safe Spaces Day has been conducted. Safe Spaces Day is always held in the spring to start out the semester and because a lot of students come in mid-semester.
“The idea is to be sure students are aware that the program exists,” said Anastasia Panagakos, the coordinator for Safe Spaces Day. “The focus this year is on meeting allies, and so in this case the idea would be that this is a good opportunity for students to meet faculty who are allies in the Safe Spaces program – people they can count on to go to if they need assistance.”
Panagakos said that this year, the focus has been on expanding people’s ideas of gender. The program has organized workshops with faculty members to make them more aware and respectful of students who are fluid in their gender identity.
One of the focuses Panagakos said the program has been working on is getting the first gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus. Safe Spaces has been pushing for all the bathroom signs to be changed so that every single bathroom says “All Gender.”
“We are all on this campus to learn. We want the environment to be open and positive,” said Panagakos.
Professor Heather Hutcheson, an English faculty member a part of Safe Spaces, said a program like this is important now more than ever.
“I think there are people who are feeling as though they’re not included due to a variety of national level policies” said Hutcheson. “Our campus wants to make sure that people feel welcomed and safe on campus and that they know the resources available to help them if they face things like sexual assault, harassment, discrimination.”
Hutcheson said many teachers at CRC place Safe Space stickers on their windows, indicating that anyone in need of guidance can reach them if they need help.
A map with all faculty members who have Safe Space locations can be found on the CRC Safe Spaces website.
“We have an online form that if a student feels that they’re being discriminated, harassed, bullied-maybe because they don’t speak English well or because they have a lifestyle that others don’t approve of, those students can go online on the reporting form and report it,” said Professor Sandra Carter, a Safe Space ally and member of the Social Responsibility Committee.
“The administration of the campus watches to see if there’s a growing increase so we can track how much the social climate in this campus; if it’s positive or negative.”
Carter said the Social Responsibility Committee, the committee that puts on Safe Spaces Day, has direct contact with students and asks them how they feel about situations that have occurred to them and what films they’d like to show to raise awareness. Some students on the committee have had film series based on what CRC students have suggested.
“I like being a part of it because I personally used Safe Spaces at one point in time when I was going through some personal issues,” said Laura Roccucci, former student who participated in Safe Spaces Day the past two years and member of the Social Responsibility Committee. “It allowed me to have somebody to talk to and that was a comfort.”
“Every student has equal right to be here, and they have equal right to be treated with respect and given the same opportunity to pursue whatever academic goal they have,” said Carter.