For the second year in a row, the students of Academy of the Canyons once again organized and hosted the second annual “Wake Up, Stand Up” sexual harassment and assault seminar on Saturday.
Held in the Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on the College of the Canyons Valencia campus, the event has been geared toward students since its inception and designed to bring awareness and a “centralized education” to the topic of sexual harassment, according to the event’s founder, Joelle Min, an AOC 11th grader.
“It’s Sexual Harassment Awareness month and this event has doubled in size this year,” said Min. “Instead of just learning about STDs, we’re having victim blaming workshops, how to detect red flags in relationships and tools students can use to know how people should treat you.”
Throughout the day, those in attendance heard from experts on topics ranging from being a male survivor to sexism in the media. There were also workshops on issues such as consent, building a healthy relationships and supporting survivors.
“You’re never too young to learn how to stay safe and know what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior,” said Greg Rice, a parent of one of the AOC student organizers. “Our kids are going to go to college soon, and they’re going to have to know how to navigate this themselves. And so the more facts, training and information they have, the more equipped they are to survive in that.”
The event concluded with a speech from Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, who took the time to share information with students about her legislation, Assembly Bill 543, which would require schools to hang posters around their campuses that outline a particular school’s sexual harassment and reporting policies.
“Not everyone feels like they have that kind of relationship with their parents, and many (young people) institutionally, in their school environment, in their work environment, don’t know who the appropriate authority to report this kind of activity to,” said Smith to a crowd of students, parents and faculty. “So, I knew that was one of the things I wanted to take on when I got to the state legislator.”
After explaining the nature of AB 543, Smith then did an open question and answer session with those in the audience, fielding questions and their concerns about how sexual harassment plays into schools and peer-led environments.
In addition to the attendable panels and workshops, those in attendance at the free event were also given lunch and a chance to view a student-run art exhibit.
“It was definitely larger than last year, and it was a lot easier this year because we were able to bring students here and work alongside students,” said Min. “I know a big reason I started this event because I heard my peers talking about misconceptions about consent. So, I hope today that we provided a centralized education that they don’t receive in their comprehensive high school.”