When Nick DiMico was appointed director of safety and violence prevention for ASUI, he said one of his goals was to increase community involvement with violence prevention programs. Working closely with Virginia Solan, University of Idaho violence prevention program coordinator, DiMico put together a full calendar of planned events for sexual assault awareness month in April. Solan said the first event, a presentation on healthy relationships by Alternatives To Violence of the Palouse’s Bekah MillerMacPhee, is on April 1 in the Clearwater/ Whitewater room in the Idaho Commons. Boxes for their post-secret program — where people can anonymously submit stories of interpersonal violence — will be put out for submissions Monday. Submissions will be posted on the speak-out wall the last two weeks of April.
The next event planned is a retreat for Solan’s speakers bureau on April 6. After the retreat speakers will go into classes and speak about interpersonal violence. Fifteen people will participate in Green Dot training in Spokane on April 17-20.
Denim Day is April 24, and the ASUI Senate has voted to suspend the dress code for their meeting that day to show support.
The Power Project, a poetry slam and music jam event against interpersonal violence, is April 26 at the 1912 Center.
The final scheduled events are two Green Dot training sessions open to the student body on the April 30. DiMico said there are 70 seats available for students at each session.
DiMico said such a busy schedule would be impossible without help from the community and people collaborating with DiMico and Solan, include everyone from ASUI Senators, KUOI, Greek Life, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, athletes and everyday students who are passionate about violence prevention.
“The cool thing about this is everything we are doing is so collaborative,” Solan said. “For example, KUOI gets free advertising and when I was stressing about an advertising budget Janae (KUOI Station Manager) offered to do it. They also made a series of public service announcements that they will be playing throughout the month.”
One of the members of Solan’s speakers bureau, Laura Hampikian, worked for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence in high school. She said she wasn’t sure how much she had to say about the issue of interpersonal violence until she began applying.
“As I was writing down the application there was a question like what do you have to offer what do have to bring to this position. I tried to answer it really truthfully and I realized I had a lot to say about this,” Hampikian said. “I was in an unhealthy relationship in eighth grade. When the coalition found out I had this story they asked me if I was comfortable enough to share it. They started having me as a spokesperson sharing my story about, you know, teens do get into bad relationships, they do get into unhealthy relationships. Even if they are not physically or sexually abusive they can still be emotionally damaging.”
Hampikian has spoken at the nation’s capitol, as well as the state capitol and several Boise Television stations. She said she was hired on as a paid staff member her freshmen year of college.
“They hired me on as an official spokesperson and an official team leader and I was actually able to hire six teenagers from the Boise area,” Hampikian said. “They were sort of this brainchild, we got together four days a week in the summer. We would just sit there and brainstorm, how do we solve the problem of teen dating violence in our communities?”
When she transferred to UI she decided to work independently. She said the freedom allows her to pursue the cause of ending the interpersonal violence however she sees fit.
“It allows me total liberty over what I do, if I spend my own money on a campaign I can spend it on whatever I need, I don’t have to go through grant restrictions,” Hampikian said. “It’s my platform, I am a contestant in the Ms. Idaho competition. I’m competing in the Ms. America organization. One of the things that sets this organization apart is we get to have these platforms. If you win at any level you get to spend the year with your title to promote whatever non-profit or organization you believe in.”
Hampikian said she started an organization to promote healthy relationships by providing examples. She recently put up a tumblr page at inotherwordsily.tumblr.com.
“My idea is to have people submit whatever they want,” Hampikian said. “It doesn’t have to be romantic love, it can be about have you have this great relationship with your dog, or your dad, or even something spiritual. It just has to answer the question, what makes your relationship special.”
Solan said the focus with Green Dot and other violence prevention programs and events is to build momentum for the future. DiMico said the same, and he also said he wants Green Dot to thrive, even if he does not hold a position with ASUI next year.
Solan and DiMico both said they are looking for more people to get involved.
“We really invite everybody to participate because violence affects everybody,” Solan said.
Solan said you don’t have to be involved on campus to get involved with violence prevention.
“You just have to care about it,” DiMico said.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org