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New federal budget may put at risk the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence and its projects

The Trump Administration is scheduled to release its budget by mid-March. The proposal will outline areas of government spending where  the President plans to increase or  decrease spending from the previous administration. It is rumored the proposal will cut funding to  the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA), which would defund state programs.

Defunding or eliminating VAWA would eliminate funding for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. The Coalition is involved heavily within the Idaho and Boise State community by allowing students to lead social change campaigns and lead workshops aimed at stopping gender violence.

Every state has a coalition that focuses on gender violence prevention, education and providing assistance to victims. The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence is Idaho’s non-profit organization. At the coalition, students and professionals work side-by-side in creating an inclusive environment that reaches out  to populations in the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas.

Director of Social Change Jennifer Landhuis said, “We do work in many areas. There are 24 member programs, such as shelter programs. We help build their ability to work with victims. We are charged with helping the prevention of those issues.”

According to Finance Director, Henry Hitt, aside from its social justice campaigns, federal funding is also something the public should keep in mind.

“Fortunately, funding has been stayed. But, if VAWA disappears, we have no other source—the state does not provide any,” Landhuis said. “Programs—whether that be healthcare or educational that provide resources to victims—would be shut down. We don’t exist without it.”

The impact of this organization and its funds becomes even greater when looking at the students involved. According to Laura Diaz, a senior social science major, both high school and college students are hired as interns, volunteers and employees to help run and organize campaigns.

“My mother was murdered at the hands of my father’s domestic violence. About six months ago my gender studies professor introduced me to this organization, and I have been working here ever since. This has been a way for me to connect with others since I can speak about gender violence from firsthand experience,” Diaz said.

The organization also has direct ties with Boise State.

“We work with the Gender Equity Center including presentations, trainings and work with Title IX ,” Landhuis said.

Between its work on campus and with individuals, the Coalition has been successful in its endeavors. Students are able to influence and run campaigns at a peer-to-peer level, something not many organizations allow, according to Landhuis.

“I have been able to share my experience and ‘open minds’ from a personal experience standpoint. It opens up perspective as opposed to just hearing about violent events on the news. There is a lot of potential for myself—and others—to grow here and share my voice,” Diaz said.

As they wait to see what the turn of events will be under this new administration, they continue on with their campaign titled, “We Choose All Of Us,” and continue to reach out to the Idaho community.

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