Throughout the month of April, Boise State will be host to a multitude of events aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault on campus. A nonprofits senior capstone class, partnering with the Boise Women’s and Children’s Alliance (WCA), aims to explore the WCA’s mission statement of safety, healing and freedom, through focusing on one subject each week, culminating with the exploration of community for week four.
Throughout the month, students can expect to see tablings in the Quad, a mobile tour of the WCA’s services, various presentations and a “Chalk Art Festival” event on Saturday, April 27 to wrap up the month.
Class member Cody Evans, a communication major, was part of the week four group focusing on community.
“Instead of writing a senior capstone paper, our teacher told us we are going to put together events, for the nonprofit that he had decided was our partner, which was the Women’s and Children’s alliance,” Evans said. “We had no idea how we were going to structure these events going into the class, so it was a big collaboration of 20-some people deciding what can we accomplish in this short amount of time with the resources that we have.”
Evans was tasked with helping create the final chalk art event, and hopes to use art to make people feel more comfortable in opening a dialogue on such a serious issue.
“Our goal is to use art to make the topic not as dark and gloomy, and something that people want to come and talk about,” Evans said. “This is an issue that isn’t just apparent on campuses around the nation, but in the community as a whole. People think the Treasure Valley is very safe, which we are, but there are definitely things that go unheard, and this is for sure a topic that is silenced sometimes.”
Fellow class member, Madeline Martinson, cited a campus-wide email sent out regarding someone being sexually assaulted in the Lincoln garage, as a driving point in the class’s investment towards tackling the issue.
“Being sent the email, it was kind of fitting in a sad way that we were doing this and bringing that awareness,” Martinson said. “It really showed that the Boise State campus and our community in general can be more aware and take more preventative measures.”
Martinson hopes that with this final art festival, they will not only be closing their month of awareness on campus, but also laying some foundations for the future, in terms of what people can do for sexual assault and the steps they can take if they need help.
“The severity of this issue is not something that is talked about. This happens to so many people. One in three people that you know have either experienced or know someone who has experienced sexual assault,” Martinson said. “I think normalizing how we respond to these events and understanding preventative measures are important to consider, but helping plan this event has been eye opening in how we can help these affected people become full and really get that safety, healing, and freedom they deserve.”
WCA member, Rebecca Del Rossi, mentioned how she hopes the work from this class will help students become aware of the services they offer, and that anyone can get confidential, free counselling through the alliance.
“Thankfully the conversation on college campuses has started over the past 10 years, about sexual assault. But I still think that it isn’t happening enough,” Delrossi said. “I think this class is doing a really great job of getting people comfortable talking about it and normalized into our conversations. Talking about what is a healthy relationship, what is consent, what is asking for consent, all these different things. I hope that’s what other Boise State students get out of this project as well.”
“Community” group member, Blake Harms, hopes that the final festival will draw a wide variety of artists who will be able to illustrate the issue in a way that sparks conversation.
“What we are looking for in applicants specifically is anybody who feels inspired by the WCA’s cause, or just preventing sexual assault in general,” Harms said. “We feel it would be most appropriate for the art to be centered on the WCA themes of safety, healing and freedom, and then of course we invite everybody in the community to come and engage with these art pieces at the end of the month”
Although the event is still a few weeks away, Harms mentioned the joy it has been working to shine a light on an issue often shied away from.
“It has been such a rewarding experience to gain awareness ourselves as a class, but also the ability to use that awareness to help others,” Harms said. “That is really at the core, what we are hoping to do. If we can just reach one person who goes and gets help, that’s what our goal is and that’s what we are passionate about.”
To contribute your artistic skills and become involved in the festival of awareness on April 27, fill out the following form found at https://bit.ly/2SYy2Er, or if you have any questions, contact Blake at Blakeharms@boisestate.edu. If you or a friend is in crisis, you can call the 24/7 WCA hotline at (208) 343-7025.