College campuses are often considered ground zero for risks of sexual assault, but many are becoming centers of conversations around consent and prevention. On Friday, the University of South Dakota hosted a music festival to highlight a population that’s often ignored in those conversations
Bridget Diamond-Welch is the director of USD’s I CARE. It’s a group of university staff, students, local law enforcement and others who are on the front lines of responding to sexual assault on campus.
Diamond-Welch says part of the group’s work is helping with events like this to encourage a cultural change on campus. At the start of the show, she tells the crowd that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault.
“And regardless of sex, gender, race, disability or anything, we should support those survivors!” she adds.
Diamond-Welch says this particular event has been in the works since she helped write a grant proposal to fund I CARE at USD in 2016. The festival is called 1 Blue String, and it’s part of an international campaign.
“Since guitars normally have six strings, that stands for the one in six men and boys that are sexually assaulted or sexually abused in their lifetimes,” Diamond-Welch explains.
Guitarists replace one of their strings with a blue one, but musicians of all genres participate too. Marcus Destin is a sophomore at USD and performs original hip-hop.
Destin says he was excited to take part in an event to empower a group not often mentioned in conversations about sexual abuse.
“And I believe it should be highlighted just as much as—not more or less--but just as much as any type of sexual assault," says Destin. "So to bring awareness to this is dope.”
The festival also gives students incentive to complete the sexual assault prevention training they all receive through university email. Diamond-Welch says local businesses donated raffle prizes for students who completed the online workshop.
“So really spreading the message that to be a good community member you have to have some basic knowledge about these things," she says, "and one way you can do that is by doing your training.”
More than half a dozen local and regional music acts took part in the festival, from Her Grace of Sioux City to the High Howlers acapella group.
Marcus Destin hopes the festival becomes a yearly event, and that it eventually outgrows this small lawn outside Patterson Hall.