The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

Geer, signing off
Geer, signing off
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Blake DePhillips’ role in advocacy

Photo courtesy Tate Barense, OMSC
Blake never saw himself as someone who was going to act in a play or a member of a largely female organization such as SARA.

Blake DePhillips, a junior, has started to spread more awareness about sexual assault and advocacy through his recent involvement in Simpson Productions and as a Sexual Assault Response Advocate (SARA). 

   The junior from Ankeny, Iowa, has been very busy in extracurriculars this semester. He is a member of the track and field team, SARA, FCA (Fellow Christian Athletes), SC Scholars and Simpson Productions. DePhillips, who is majoring in Environmental Science with minors in Chemistry and Forensic Science, previously had no experience in theatre but was encouraged to audition in “Good Kids” by one of his professors. The play tackles the intense topic of sexual assault by using a true story to explain the impact sexual assault has on a community. 

   “Last year, I took an acting class because I needed an art [Arts and Creative Expression] credit… This semester, I got an email from the acting teacher saying that she really loved how I performed in class. Since I was a SARA and everything else I’m involved in, she said she would love to have me be a part of the play and help tell the story,” DePhillips said.

   He starred as Tanner, a member of the football team who was a bystander to a sexual assault committed by his teammates after a party. While the Tanner character did not participate in the sexual assault, he was present when his friends were assaulting and recording an unconscious and drunk character, Chloe, who couldn’t consent. In one of the scenes, Tanner is driving Chloe home the next day and is acting terribly guilty and remorseful but still doesn’t tell her what happened. 

   Oftentimes, playing and acting in a play that has heavy content matter, such as sexual assault, can take a toll on the actors’ conscience and mind. DePhillips experienced this and recalled it as one of the more difficult things in the play. 

   “Since it’s such a dark and triggering play, just making sure that you’re separating yourself from the play and the character you’re playing is the hardest part. Making sure you don’t carry the weight of the play with you outside of it,” he said. 

   DePhillips took on the role of Tanner in order to advocate and bring awareness to a topic that is prevalent in the college culture. Additionally, he became a SARA this year due to the lack of males in the position. 

   “It’s normally been a largely female-held role, and I think to continue creating conversations and creating more awareness, there needs to be more men to make men affected more comfortable and represented,” he stated. 

   While in many instances, women are primarily affected in sexual assault crimes and cases, it still affects men nonetheless. In joining the SARA team, Blake wanted to help create a comfortable atmosphere for survivors to come and talk if they needed to. 

   In the college setting, for example, sexual assault is not talked about amongst men, either victims or allies. DePhillips aims to change that. 

   “A lot of the time, it is the men that are hesitant to talk, it’s the men who don’t want to have these conversations,” he said. “I feel like I’m able to spark those conversations and provide a space where people feel comfortable around having these conversations, it will create a safer and more positive environment on campus.”

   Blake never saw himself as someone who was going to act in a play or a member of a largely female organization such as SARA. But his friends and peers encouraged him to step out of his comfort zone, and he came to see how fulfilling it was. “I’ve created so many more friends and talked to more people than I ever would’ve thought. It’s really rewarding,” he said. 

   Overall, starring in the role of Tanner and being a SARA has been a positive experience for Blake. He admitted that balancing practices between Simpson Productions, track and field and school work was a bit of a challenge, but he endured the back-to-back practices to create a performance that everybody can take a message and learn from. 

   “As people, we need to be better about stepping in when we see certain situations occurring and that anyone can step in and make a difference when they have the opportunity… Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations,” he said.

   If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault, you’re not alone. There are resources that can help and offer support for you. 

   Reach out anonymously to a SARA and call (515) 330 6392 

   National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

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Kennedey Clark
Kennedey Clark, Staff Reporter

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