Project Safe: a help guide for finding resources


Lizette Sainz

Hillary Mennella, Student Health Services, processing the information in how Project Safe start it. Photo credit: Lizette Sainz

Lizette Sainz

A program was designed with a specific delicate topic, with the purpose to help victims of dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, the program is Project Safe, which can provide guidance.

Project Safe “provides tips on how to prevent these [dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking] crimes, outlines penalties for perpetrators, describes actions victims can take to help protect their safety, and identifies resources and rights for victims.” according to the Project Safe brochure.

Monica Chora, who works for Student Health Services, said, “I think it is a really good program for students who don’t know they have other choices. When they are in a domestic violence situation, there’s always someone in here who’s going to help them out.”

One resource for students on campus is Valyncia Raphael, Director of Diversity, Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator Valyncia Raphael.

Title IX means student’s cannot be discriminated against for gender, sex, violence on campus, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment is prohibited.

Raphael’s goal is to make sure that Cerritos College is a safe environment where any faculty staff or student is able to conduct its business in a way that is free from bullying, harassment, violence or stalking.

Police Chief Tom Gallivan said, “Dr. Raphael is new to the college, the three of our areas, Title IX, Student Health Services, and Campus Police have always worked together.

Partial duties from Gallivan and the personnel under his command are,

  • Criminal investigation.
  • Protect Students rights.
  • Any type of report made will be investigated seriously to get to the bottom of the case.
  • Criminal activity on campus will be persecuted.

Film and animation major Brenda Vidaca said, “Having this program helps people, I think it’s a really good idea, there’s a lot of people who need to feel [like there’s] someone who can [be reached] and to talk to without calling parents.”

Associate Dean Student Health,Wellness, Student Health Services Dr. Mennella said, “Me as the associate dean of Student Health and Wellness and all of our nurse practitioners, we are the only place on campus who you can talk to […] we don’t have to report it because it’s confidential, but Raphael and Chief Gallivan have a duty to report it [abuse].”

There are only three exceptions that will not remain confidential and will be reported to Gallivan.

  • One: If and infant or a child is involved.
  • Two: If and ‘elderly’ person is involved.
  • Three: If you are under 18 years old.

The project goals from Dr. Mennella are the following,

Number one: To let everyone here on campus know their rights, because some people don’t understand or realize that they may be a victim of a crime.

They might just think is acceptable that a partner stalks them, causes them emotional distress or hits them and is not acceptable, and it can interfere with your academic goals.

Number two: Let everyone learn prevention strategies.

Psychology major Desiree Payes said, “I think it is very convenient, for a student here, you have people who really care and understand what you are going through, and [Project Safe] can help you with whatever hardships you might have.”

Project safe wants students to know resources are out there.

There’s not just one place to turn for help, you can go to the police, but you can go to the Student Health Center or you can go off campus to some other resources that Dr. Mennella and the heath center have available.

A fair percentage of students ignore the fact they can always come to the Student Health Center to receive free services. Here are a few examples that students maybe interested to know.

  • Professional help available to you.
  • Nurses and staff who you can talk to.
  • Blood pressure can be checked.
  • Medical attention.

Gallivan said, Dr. Mennella was the one who came up with the idea of putting together the Falcon Safe presentation.

Dr. Mellenna said, “I believe there was already an initiative before I came aboard […] it was in place already when I got here, me and Gallivan took over and tried to elevate [it].

“Instead of having the brochure laying around until someone might pick it up and see it, we actively go out try to educate the campus,” she said.

Gallivan said, “Whether it is a group, a team, a class, or just a few students, friends who want to get together, we’ll go ahead and put up the presentation for anybody.”

Gallivan stated Cerritos College was not funding Project Safe, it’s just part of their daily weekday job, and there was no additional cost through this program to the college, it was just something they put together.

“I give full credit to Dr. Mennella for putting the power point together, […] there are no more workshops schedule at this moment,” Gallivan said.

Dr. Mennella said, “That’s part of my work description, part of Chief Gallivan’s and Dr. Raphael’s description. In terms of funding I mean, for printing materials Student Health Services we pay for that […] We take turns hosting different events and we kind of split the cost.”

However the Project Safe brochure states “information in this brochure was provided courtesy of the Cal State L.A. Student Health Center Project SAFE program, with funding it received from the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Dr. Menella said there are more workshops coming up and are posted on Daily Falcon.

Raphael said, “There have been several events, presentations, and workshops this year already about the information. There will be quite a few more before the end of the semester as well.”

“When we fall short of that goal, I aim to coordinate the campus efforts to ensure faculty, staff, visitors, and students have the information and skills to either intervene to disrupt inappropriate behavior or to report it to me or law enforcement as soon as possible.” Raphael said.

For more information regarding Project Safe please contact,

Dr. Mennella, (562) 860-2451, Ext. 2321

Chief of Police, Gallivan, (562)860-2451, Ext. 2327 [email protected]

Direct Line: (562) 924-3618

Dr. Raphael, (562) 860-2451 Ext. 2276 [email protected]