Northern Iowan

Chalk controversy on College St.

CASEY ALLBEE, Staff Writer

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“Consent is required” was just one of the many anti-sexual harassment messages that were seen on College Hill and Main Street on Friday, April 8. These messages were written in chalk on the sidewalks and even walls of some businesses during the evening hours.

Sigma Phi Epsilon recently hosted their annual Sexual Assault Awareness week (SAAW), which began on April 4 and ended on April 8. This was the fraternity’s fourth year hosting SAAW.

Despite the timing of the fraternity’s week-long sexual assault awareness event in conjunction with the chalkings that appeared on College Hill and Main Street, Jared Riter, Sigma Phi Epsilon president, said he did not have any knowledge of the chalkings.

“None of my members took part in the chalking, and Sigma Phi Epsilon did not have any knowledge of this or take part in this in any way,” Riter said.

Sigma Phi Epsilon Advisor Alan Heisterkamp echoed Riter, saying, he had no idea who wrote the messages.

On Saturday, April 9, employees of one business on Main Street found an anti-sexual harassment message written in chalk on the side of their building.

According to police call logs, the business reported this to the Cedar Falls Police. The incident was recorded as a vandalism case.

One individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, works at a bar on Main Street and had attempted to clean off a message that was written outside of the business. The message reportedly said, “Consent is required.”

The individual could not clean off the message after 20 minutes of sweeping, and the message remained on the sidewalk all weekend until it rained again.

“The thing I didn’t like about it was how it made it looked like people got raped there,” the individual said.

The same message appeared outside of Mohair Pear on College Hill, but one employee at the business felt differently.

Emily Mollman, who has worked at Mohair Pear for a year, said she understood the reasoning behind the chalkings.

“I think…the chalkings about sexual assaults…[are] an interesting way to talk about it. It gives people the chance to…reflect on it,” Mollman said.

While Mollman supported the chalkings, she felt that the individuals could have been more aware of where they placed the messages.

“I think the idea was just that people are going to be walking up and down College Hill, but I definitely understand businesses or people being upset,” Mollman said.

Many of the chalkings have been cleaned up or washed away by the weather, but some remains from the messages can still be seen on College Hill.

Craig Berte, assistant chief of the Cedar Falls Police Department, explained that the business called in the incident due to corporate policy and that there was no investigation or follow-up because there was no monetary damage to the building.

“We did not do an investigation because it is very common,” Berte said. “There’s all kinds of different groups and organizations that chalk on sidewalks…very common on the Hill and Main Street.”

Berte said that there has to be damage in order for an incident to count as vandalism or criminal mischief in the eyes of the law.

Berte went on to explain  that chalking would only count as vandalism if someone is unable to clean it off or if the weather, such as rain or snow, cannot wash it away.

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Chalk controversy on College St.