GSEC Responds to ‘Myths’


Photo courtesy of GSEC

In a Feb. 17 article, columnist Roberto Fonseca asserted: “Let a person speak. Let their garbage ideas show how much of an idiot they actually are.” This statement strikes an unfortunate resemblance to his May 10 opinion column: “Debunking GSEC Myths.” This article is shameful writing at best, and at worst, it’s false, disingenuous and malicious. Fonseca’s words have incited pain upon many people, both on and off campus, and he and “The Orion” must take responsibility for the ramifications.

We are not writing to refute Fonseca’s statistics with more statistics. The ideas he expressed about the nonexistence of rape culture, systemic racism, and multiple gender identities are simply not true—irrefutable evidence is easily discoverable online, backed by a plethora of reputable sources.

Instead, we want to redirect the focus and assert the truth: the AS Gender & Sexuality Equity Center (GSEC) is a student-led organization dedicated to empowering and educating all students, while centering the voices of those most affected by systemic violence and oppression.

Since 1971, originally as the AS Women’s Center and later as GSEC, we have worked tirelessly to provide a safe space for all students while staying true to our values of diversity, equity and inclusion. We welcome anyone who wishes to join the movement to promote gender and racial equity, or dismantle oppression of any kind, to visit and talk with us.

GSEC is made up of passionate students that aim to empower the campus community through awareness-raising events and a supportive environment. We have an open-door policy for any student in need of resources or a safe place to find community and healing. We do not intend to restrict free speech, but rather to foster a sense of learning and respect for many lived truths.

As a center, we provide students with free and affordable sexual and menstrual health supplies and are a free referral service for anyone needing support regarding sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexuality and gender-based care, among other related areas.

We are not so naive as to believe we have never made mistakes, and we understand some people feel intimidated by our center’s presence. That unfortunately comes with the nature of our work—we are constantly learning and striving to reach out to the campus community in new ways, but we won’t reach everyone—until folks give us a chance by stepping into our office or attending a GSEC event.

Everyone has been taught a variety of ideas growing up, influenced by their hometowns, family, and peers. The GSEC exists to challenge the societal norms that are traditionally used to oppress and marginalize. That can be a difficult unlearning process for everyone, but it can and should be done.

With that in mind, we intend to hold “The Orion” to higher standards than it currently demonstrates. As a fellow student-run organization, we expect more of “The Orion.” We demand that it strives to embody the values of Chico State: those that foster a safe learning environment for students from all intersecting identities and experiences.

Students charged with the responsibility of reporting on their campus community should be expected to undergo adequate training in reporting ethically and fairly. Just because Fonseca’s work was published in an opinion column does not mean it is not subject to the principles and values of quality journalism for which “The Orion” was once known.

We strongly urge the journalism department to make “Public Affairs Reporting” (JOUR 321) a prerequisite for participation in “The Orion.” A class that covers the: “development of greater skills in story recognition and judgment, information gathering… including specialized reporting and ethics,” is sorely needed.

We think this prerequisite could be a step in the right direction for restoring the trust that many students, faculty, and staff have lost in “The Orion” in recent years due to a pattern of irresponsible and inaccurate reporting.

Words, language, and stories like Fonseca’s have the capacity to incite violence, prevent survivors from reporting their sexual assaults, and create an unwelcoming environment—the opposite of the Chico State community we know and love. It’s not too late to do the right thing.