When integrated strategic communication major Katie Yates was studying at WSU Pullman, she was the risk manager for her sorority. In that role, she worked with her sorority sisters on sexual assault awareness and prevention. She had no way to know how relevant that experience would be after she transferred to WSU Vancouver.
The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation selected WSU Vancouver’s integrated strategic communication program in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication to help with “WA Says No More,” a campaign that is part of a nationwide movement dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. The campaign launched March 9 at the Women’s Festival Northwest at Clark College. The festival is held each year in March for Women’s History Month and around the annual March 8 International Women’s Day.
NWCAVE is a volunteer-operated national nonprofit organization headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., with offices in Washington, Oregon and California. The organization works to inform, educate and prevent violence and exploitation against women and children nationally and internationally.
Whether human trafficking, domestic violence, missing children, sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking, bullying, hate crimes or any other form of violence and exploitation against women and children, NWCAVE works to keep the public informed and educated about how we can live in a more civilized society free of violence.
“Everyone knows someone who has been touched by domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Yates, a senior who will graduate in May. She said working with NWCAVE has been eye opening. “My classmates and I knew sexual assault and violence was an issue, but looking at it locally makes it personal,” she said.
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, on any given day in the state of Washington, nearly 3,000 people seek domestic violence services, including advocacy, emergency shelter or information. As part of this support, NWCAVE works with a number of organizations to develop programs to help victims of violence and exploitation, and raise awareness of these issues among communities across the United States.
A campaign is born
Last semester Yates’s classmates were formed into teams and each was asked to pitch a launch campaign for “WA Says No More.” Yates’s team won the competition. This semester her class is working to implement the winning campaign. They seek to open a dialogue among communities, from Clark to King counties, about the realness of domestic violence. Through this effort, Michelle Bart, president and co-founder of NWCAVE, and the students hope younger generations will know nothing of domestic violence or exploitation.
“We are so excited about our partnership with these students,” said Bart. “We need to draw the public’s attention to this important issue, especially on campuses statewide, so we can achieve our goals that will impact the lives of Washingtonians for decades to come. We are so honored to have them leading this effort.”
Professor Liz Candello sees multiple benefits for her students who have the opportunity to work with NWCAVE. “While the tangible experience for students to work on a communication campaign, including planning, writing and execution, is important, it’s secondary to the chance to be a part of a very important issue that affects us all and where real change is needed,” she said. “I hoped our students would see that they have a powerful platform to shape the conversation. I’ve watched them grow to become not only skilled communicators but vocal advocates for an important cause.”
For WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer, this is an opportunity not only to make a difference, but to showcase partnerships between community organizations and WSU Vancouver. “NWCAVE’s partnership with WSU Vancouver students is an exciting opportunity for everyone involved,” said Netzhammer. “This gives our students the opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom and build real-world skills by developing and implementing a statewide campaign that impacts issues that affect our communities.”
Yates’s fine work in the classroom led to a marketing internship with NWCAVE. She is currently managing social media for the organization’s initiatives. She also had an opportunity to attend the Southwest Conference Against Trafficking in Ontario, Calif., in January. “I’ve learned I have a real heart for nonprofits,” said Yates. “Ideally I would like to stay in the communications realm working in public relations or digital media marketing.”
As Yates prepares to graduate and enter the job market, she said she feels confident. “I have real experience. I leave knowing I’ve made a real impact on my community and grown in my desired profession,” she said. ■
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About Northwest Crimson & Gray
Northwest Crimson & Gray is the semiannual magazine of WSU Vancouver, produced to highlight the WSU Vancouver community and higher education in Southwest Washington.