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Student protesters demand increased services from ASU for survivors of sexual assault

To show support for survivors of sexual assault, student protesters demanded funding for the Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources and Education proposal

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Students with Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault walk across the Tempe campus from Hayden Lawn to the Memorial Union on Friday, April 14, 2023. 

Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, a non-University affiliated group dedicated to fighting rape culture and supporting survivors of sexual assault at ASU, held a protest Friday in conjunction with other student groups to show support for survivors and to continue demanding for funding to back their Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources and Education proposal.

Members of SDASA, Arizona Students Association, MEChA de ASU and the National Council of Negro Women ASU gathered with other students on Hayden Lawn on the Tempe campus. 

In a press release, SDASA said ASU has not done enough to support survivors of sexual assault and that the number of professional prevention and victim advocacy staff within the University, the hiring of student interns instead of additional staff and the University's advocacy of off-campus family advocacy centers are inadequate.

They said they are demanding additional professional staff dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, more confidential victim advocates, a 24/7 advocacy line and a survivor fund, according to the press release. 

The CAARE center would be "an independent, confidential office responsible for prevention, training, advocacy and healing related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking for students, faculty, and staff at ASU," according to the proposal. The proposal has been endorsed by 63 student organizations. 

"The message is that ASU needs to abolish rape culture, there needs to be more resources available to victims of rape," said Emily Baker, a political science student. "ASU has not been doing their part in protecting victims of rape on campus." 

Once assembled, the group of about 20 marched toward the Memorial Union, chanting and banging a drum. They stopped in the Memorial Union plaza, and Arnob Kabir, a mechanical engineering student, advocated for the CAARE proposal Fridday and said there's frustration with the University's lack of support for survivors.

READ MORE: Students can get accessible STI testing and prevention options at ASU

The recently opened Tempe Family Advocacy Center offers similar services to the ones described in the CAARE proposal, but SDASA said the reliance of off-campus centers "creates a barrier to accessing services for students who need these resources most" due to its proximity to the police, who have a "history of hostility" toward those who face higher rates of sexual violence, according to a press release.

READ MORE: Family Advocacy Center provides Tempe residents, ASU students with expanded services

The FAC is in the process of opening, but its location is confidential and only provided in emergencies to those who reach out for it. CARE 7 specialists are available 24/7 on the CARE & HOPE Hotline, (480) 350-8004, to connect people with the resources they need.

Kabir said the FAC does not do enough to support the entire student body across ASU's four main campuses. 

"The Tempe Family Advocacy Center is not enough to protect students on campus," Kabir said. "We need something that is ASU-centered."

Other protesters expressed frustration with ASU's history of reporting cases of rape and sexual assault. 

A 2020 investigation by The State Press found that rape is the most common violent crime among Arizona's major public universities, and of the 68 reported incidents of rape at ASU from 2017 to 2019, not one case investigated by the ASU Police Department was prosecuted at the county level.

READ MORE: ASU's sexual assault investigation processes leave survivors traumatized, often without justice

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education found ASU violated the Clery Act by failing to notify all parties of a final determination in a case and adequate details regarding the decision to all parties involved in a University rape investigation. Following the violation, the University updated its policies.

"ASU has been investigated many times by the Department of Education... for not following up and reporting appropriately and responsibly to sexual assault claims," said Athena Peters, a self-identified survivor of sexual assault studying communications. "They have many incidents and lawsuits by victims who say that they have been effectively silenced."

The Friday protest was in solidarity with students across the country for Sexual Assault Awareness Month which takes place every year in April.

Edited by Shane Brennan, Piper Hansen and Greta Forslund.

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