Campus, Long Beach, News

Lack of harassment reports leave students feeling vulnerable

After a long work week, 25-year-old Shayda Monjezi, a Cal State Long Beach film graduate, decided to unwind with a few drinks in Downtown Long Beach. But her night took a turn when she was almost assaulted by a drunk pedestrian.

A man attempted to get her attention by whistling at her and when Monjezi ignored him, he followed her. Once Monjezi reached her car, the man tried to plant an unwanted kiss. She threatened to call the police, which ultimately prompted him to flee. Because Monjezi was intoxicated, she decided it was in her best interest to brush the incident off in order to avoid any further implications for the night.

“That’s Long Beach for you,” said Monjezi, referring to the incident.

Other areas in Long Beach, such as Belmont Shore or the 4th Street bar crawl, are popular among students despite harassment being a common threat..

These situations, however, often remain unreported.

Ernesto Escotto, a 25-year-old cook who works at Sancho’s Tacos on 2nd Street, said that he had witnessed a woman getting harassed by a drunk man in the restaurant.

“He was just being a drunk asshole, “ Escotto said. “He was trying to hold her hand and he made her uncomfortable, so we had to kick him out.”

Sexual harassment not only happens at bars and clubs, it also happens at school. To combat inappropriate behavior and unwanted advances on campuses, universities statewide have adopted the Title IX act that helps protect victims who have been harassed.

But according to Crime Prevention Sergeant Keith Caires, the best thing university police can do is advise the victims to take a self-defense class. Most harassers are cited with a ticket and if possible, probation. In Caires opinion, these citations don’t help protect victims because harassers are quick to offend again.

Because harassment is not technically a crime, victims are often burdened with the fact that not much can be done unless they are actually touched. Roxanne Galich, a 25-year-old Public Policy and Administration student at Long Beach, said she was once harassed by two men outside her classroom around 8 p.m. this past spring.

“I honestly don’t know why but for some reason it always happens at night,” Galich said. “There were two guys who were sitting on a bench outside of class…they said some obscene words [to me] and when I told them I was going to report it, they got angry and left.”

Although Title IX is in effect to protect students, Galich expressed how vulnerable she still feels leaving her night classes.

“Sadly, it’s unavoidable,” said alumnus Jose Avalos, who has seen harassment first hand at Long Beach’s downtown bar scene. “Some guys don’t have empathy for women and they don’t really know how they feel.”

And the problem doesn’t just impact women. 28-year-old Chris Gomez, a frequent patron of the Long Beach bar scene, has witnessed his male friend being harassed at another bar in Long Beach.

“He yelled some stuff at him because he’s gay and my friend fired back by saying f**k you,” Gomez said. “The other guy was drunk and wanted to fight my friend, but the bouncers seen what was going on and kicked the guy out.”

Gomez added that there have been many more incidents in which drunk attendees have wanted to fight either him or his friends, but for the most part bouncers are quick to stop the situations from turning violent.

While there are no solid annual statistics stating any rise or fall in harassment rates among students in Long Beach, Cal State Long Beach school’s website has a record of reports that have been made from July 2016 to June 2017, which is updated every year. Out of a total of 25 reports, 23 are cases of students being the respondent, with a total of one expulsion where the respondent was held responsible.

Based on the statistics from the university, there has been a drop in harassment reports. From July 2015 to June 2016 there were a total of 30 reports, and July 2016 to June 2017 had just 25 reports.

Despite the decline in reports last year, students still experience harassment.

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