Students stand against violence
Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) students walked 13 laps on Thursday, April 25, as part of the annual Take Back The Night rally. The event took place on the campus track and represents the students taking a stand against abuse and sexual assault.
Oregon Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale), a MHCC geology and criminal justice instructor, led the rally speaking out against sexual abuse and violence before the walk.
Gorsek explained one of the most important ways to prevent violent behavior is to speak up when someone sees something inappropriate.
"It's not always about calling the police, but remember we are part of a community and to do what we can," Gorsek said.
Gorsek serves on the state's judiciary committee, which is currently working on violence prevention legislation.
Recently, the state senate unanimously passed Kaylee's Law that curtails the amount of authority afforded private security officers and calls for expanded background checks.
Kaylee's Law was named after Kaylee Sawyer, a 23-year-old who was raped and murdered by a Central Oregon Community College security guard in 2016. She mistook the security guard for a police officer.
Gorsek explained there's no description of who fits a sexual or violent perpetrator as it could be anyone — even a security guard.
"We focus on stranger danger, but in 50% of homicide cases we know the person who killed us," Gorsek said.
Take Back The Night rallies started in the 1960s as a worldwide protest against assault and sexual abuse in Europe, according to a the Take Back The Night Foundation. One in three women worldwide experience a form of sexual violence in their lifetime, and one in six men will experience sexual violence. Less than 50% of sexual-assault victims report these crimes.
The annual Take Back the Night rallies focus on protesting and bringing an end to sexual assault, violence, sexual abuse, and a way for the communities hosting the rallies to show support for the victims of such crimes.
Fardwosa Duale, a member of the college's Associated Student Government, said the event shows MHCC is a welcoming environment, and will support sexual assault victims.
"Sexual violence is a very prevalent issue at colleges and universities, so it's important that we discuss this topic at MHCC and show that it's not appropriate behavior," said Duale, who also organized the event. "The Take Back The Night rally is just one way we're doing that."
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