BSU Class Combats Sexual Assault in Unique Ways

A Ball State class is back in action, with new ways to combat sexual assault. 

81% of women and 43% of men report experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. Because of this, there are many ways people try to spark change. Elemental, a class offered at Ball State, is doing just that but in a unique way.

According to Mellisa Holtzman, the class co-creator, most sexual assault programs are either primary prevention or risk-reduction classes. Primary prevention focuses on education about consent and party culture while risk-reduction is more tailored around self defense and protection.

“Elemental is unique because it blends those two together, and that’s what we believe makes it so impactful,” Holtzman said. 

In addition, most classes are usually only offered to females. Elemental is unique because it does both and is open to everyone. 

This course is made up of discussions, video-based scenarios and learning physical ways to protect themselves. Holtzman uses these elements to broaden students’ understanding of the topics. Even though the subject matter may be heavy at times, students like Sarah Kendall are still comfortable. 

“We have a good time, even though it’s a serious topic we’re learning about,” Kendall said. “We’ll practice on ourself and Mellisa, our professor. We have fun while we do it. Even though we know it’s serious, we still try to make it as fun as possible.”

Holtzman knows it’s not always fun and games. That’s why personal stories or triggering memories are always welcome, and Holtzman makes herself available before, during and after class for anything students may be struggling with. If something is ever too triggering, students can always sit out or leave the room. However, Holtzman says the class curriculum helps students work through what they may be dealing with. 

“The way the program is designed allows them to kind of work through whatever triggering events might be happening for them and ultimately end feeling much more empowered than kind of stressed or anxiety ridden,” Holtzman said. 

Elemental started as a Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry Project and evolved from there. Now, it is offered as a once-a-week one-credit hour class, as well as throughout the semester in longer sessions. Since its creation, results have been positive. 

“It reduces assault rates by 66 percent which is an incredibly high reduction in assault,” Holtzman said.

Holtzman has taken these results to other schools, and now the class is offered in other states. Even though Holtzman says society is putting more emphasis on not victim blaming, Kendall says this class is still extremely valuable. 

“It’s still important that if you are saying that, and people aren’t listening, you can still protect yourself in a way. It’s something that we need to know in this world,” Kendall said. 

The class costs $10, and students can sign up here


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