| 03.24.2018

ASUI appoints DiMico for violence prevention


One in six women and one in 33 men in America are victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, according to the Rape Incest Abuse National Network.
In order to combat the issue of sexual violence on the University of Idaho campus, the ASUI Senate voted to appoint Nick DiMico to the new position of Director of Safety and Violence Prevention at their Feb. 13 meeting.
The senate voted on senate bill S13-11, which was written by ASUI Chief of Staff Jim Martinez and sponsored by Senator Patrick Tunison, passing it unanimously.
Martinez said he received 10 applications for the position, which he said was probably the most for a position in recent memory. The hiring committee interviewed eight of the 10 applicants before selecting DiMico.
“We were looking for someone who could establish this position and make it sustainable through ASUI administration and cabinet changes,” Martinez said.
Martinez said a big reason for the creation of this position was to help fulfill the administration’s campaign promise for greater safety promotion on campus. Martinez said the position is very broad in reach.
“Violence isn’t confined to one demographic,” Martinez said. “So a big duty of this position will be to educate students on the different types of violence.”
DiMico’s list of qualifications is extensive. While at North Idaho College, he was a student leader for the Unite Against Hate Protest, Public Relations Director for the LGBT Speakers Bureau and Gay Straight Alliance and Director of Denim Day.
DiMico said he is excited to be involved in student government. He told a story of his experience with Denim Day that made him even more passionate about violence prevention.
Denim Day is a protest inspired by the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rapist’s conviction because his victim’s jeans were supposedly too tight to be removed without her cooperation.
“The protest involves girls wearing skinny jeans and caution tape with signs that say ‘I did not deserve to be raped,'” DiMico said. “At the Denim Day I was involved in, someone stopped and said, ‘she definitely deserved it, and so do you.’ This is what made me really passionate about this issue.”
DiMico said one of his goals for the position was to boost male involvement in violence prevention programs.
“A lot of men don’t get involved because they feel like feminist means woman,” DiMico said. “But men aren’t immune from the effects of interpersonal violence.”
Coordinator of Violence Prevention Programs Virginia Solan said she sees the new position as a key step toward fulfilling her goal of changing the campus culture at UI.
“People are going to be a lot more interested in what Nick has to say, and what the students have to say than what I might have to say, no matter how great what I have to say might be,” Solan said. “And Nick in this position is a really powerful way for students to have a real powerful say in what the programming is, from the things that we focus on to the way that we focus on them.”
Solan mentioned some of the goals that she and DiMico developed.
“We both really love broadcasting and journalism,” Solan said. “And I had already decided that I was going to launch a program on KUOI every other week. It will be mostly student voices talking about experiences with violence and just thoughts about it.”
Solan said the program will be from 3:30-4:30 p.m on Saturdays, starting in March. Solan mentioned creating a blog where people could post experiences and have them put on the radio. She also is putting together a speaker’s bureau to put together powerful personal stories about interpersonal violence.
“I really don’t think me standing up there and quoting statistics is nearly as effective,” Solan said. “I can see people’s eyes glaze over and they leave with the attitude of, ‘so OK, and that’s too bad, but what?’ So we are going to make it very de-stigmatized, talking about interpersonal violence. I believe Nick is going to be able to meet my goal of connecting with every student on this campus. Just to talk to them, not tell them why they should care, but asking them why they do care. And if they say ‘well I don’t have a very non-threatening conversation with them asking them, ‘why not? How does this not affect you?'”
Solan also mentioned a speak out, poetry slam and music jam event planned for April 26 at the 1912 Center.
Solan said ASUI Senate Pro Tempore Allison Fuller created the director of safety and violence prevention position. Fuller said ASUI had extra funds, so she and Vice-President Nick Tunison drafted the job description in the fall.
“We decided to create a new position because running all of the programs to end interpersonal violence was too much work for a senator,” Fuller said.
Fuller also mentioned the Green Dot Program, which is a bystander intervention program designed to stop violence that is used at universities in Washington. The senate allocated $2,500 to help fund Green Dot training,. Fifteen UI students and staff will travel to Spokane in April for Green Dot training so they can train their living groups on how to implement the program.
“Allie created this position so that when she was gone there would be someone to ensure Green Dot lived on,” Solan said.
Solan urged men who have been victims of sexual assault reach out for help and support.
“We want guys in the future, unfortunately who are sexually assaulted, to know that we are here for them. The cops are here for them and Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse. Everyone thinks, ‘Oh if I call ATVP they’ll laugh.’ No, no, no, we get it,” Solan said. “Sexual violence is a huge thing and it affects everyone.”
Andrew Deskins can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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