Bias-free program gets highlighted at first Safe Spaces Day

The Cosumnes River College community observed its first Safe Spaces Day on Feb. 3. The event raised awareness about the campus-wide effort to create a safe and bias-free environment.

The Social Responsibility Committee organized the event with support from student and faculty volunteers who handed out flyers and encouraged passing students to take the Safe Spaces Pledge.

“Safe Spaces is necessary to CRC because we’re very diverse, and with a lot of issues that have been happening, it’s important that people feel safe at their school,” said 23-year-old government student Kathy Mendoza.

Tables with flyers, buttons and pledge sign-up sheets were located on the WINN Center’s second floor, in the library lobby and outside the cafeteria.

“I’m pretty impressed that there’s even something going on like this,” said 29-year-old communications major Jenay Clayton. “I think when you see a table, pick up a flyer. Why not read it, you know? It takes two minutes to read on the way to your next class, and just see if your school’s doing something that you believe in.”

Although Clayton hadn’t known about Safe Spaces before the event, she said the flyer piqued her interest in the program and she considered taking the Safe Spaces Pledge.

Safe Spaces Day drew attention to the resources available on campus.

“If one day something bad happens to them, then they’ll know that this does exist and that there’s something like it on campus,” said 22-year-old child development student Cindy Nguyen.

The recent Snapchat issue highlighted how important it is to address students’ fear about subjects such as racial tension and school shootings.

“We knew that based on what was happening in neighborhoods around us – Davis, ARC, our sister campuses – there was a wide range of discrimination,” said Music Professor Steven Coughran. “The focus of this day is to encourage us all to really look at ourselves, our own thoughts, our own behaviors, our own actions, to question ourselves across a broad palate of issues.”

For those who don’t know how they can help establish CRC as a safe space, Anastasia Panagakos, event coordinator and anthropology professor, said that it starts with yourself. 

“Students can participate at the most basic level by being aware of their own bias,” Panagakos said. “Be an upstander, not a bystander.”

The program focuses on educating people about ingrained bias to promote an open community where ideas and opinions are shared respectfully.

“We want students, faculty and staff to have intense dialogue in a respectful way,” Peshkoff said.

By creating an open community, students and faculty will have the opportunity to open up about issues and have the support to come up with solutions.

“We’re getting these messages, ‘It’s not okay to be who you are.’ And there’s so much pain in that, in carrying that,” Coughran said.

But with all the support for making CRC a safe space, maybe they won’t have to carry that pain much longer.

“I think what you guys are standing up for is obviously positivity, and no one can deny that,” Clayton said.

Check out Safe Spaces resources and locations on the campus website.