“Peaceful.” “Fearless.” “The way it should be.”
That’s what three members of the BYU community said the world would be like without sexual assault, according to messages chalked on the sidewalk just west of the Wilkinson Student Center.
The BYU Title IX Office and Women’s Services and Resources hosted a “Chalk the Walk” event on March 29 to kick off BYU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. They invited passersby to consider the question “what would the world be like without sexual assault?” and write their answers in chalk on Brigham Square.
“I said it would be safer,” said Jackie Nuñez, one of BYU’s two sexual assault survivor advocates. “Just feeling like you can go and navigate different spaces and not have that fear.”
She said the event is important because it creates awareness about on-campus resources for those who have experienced sexual assault, giving a voice and support to others.
Art major Dana Lovell wrote that in a world without sexual assault, she could walk alone whenever she wanted. “I have a lot of friends who have been sexually assaulted or abused, and I personally wish I could feel safe doing simple things like going on a walk or literally doing anything by myself,” she said.
Lovell said she has been making a lot of art lately to bring awareness to the issue and express how much it hurts, and she’s glad the offices hosted the event.
“Especially at BYU I feel like people think that because it’s a church school, it’s not a problem here, but it is,” she said. “I think bringing awareness is really important.”
Connor Alder, a neuroscience major and member of Students Against Sexual Assault, volunteered to help with the event. He said sexual assault awareness is important to him because sexual violence is a bigger problem than a lot of people realize. He’s trying to help other men become more aware of it.
“We have a responsibility to respect women, and we can do better,” he said.
Many participants wrote that the world would be happier without sexual assault. One student wrote that in a world without the issue, they would still be in their same major.
“That’s really heartbreaking,” Nuñez said. “You know, that it can affect somebody so much to the point that maybe they have to change their major because of something that happened to them.”
But she also said she read answers that gave her hope, such as “beautiful,” “peaceful,” and “fearless.”
Alder agreed. “(Reading the answers) gives me hope that the world could be so much better if we were able to improve on this problem.”
He said he hopes people can spread the word and show support for victims because the little things make a big difference.
There are resources available through Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy Services, where students can talk to advocates and know they are supported, Nuñez said.
She encouraged students to visit BYU’s sexual assault advocacy website and contact herself or fellow advocate Lisa Leavitt if they have experienced sexual assault.