While researching colleges, Downers Grove South High School senior Therese Malinowski was shocked to find that there was limited information about resources colleges would offer on sexual assault, and if there was a culture of sexual assault dismissal on campus. To answer her own questions, and to help create a resource for students as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Malinowski created the Project Dandelion Database. The database supplies clear information about sexual assault statistics on every Illinois college.
Malinowski’s passion for advocacy on the topic began after watching a close friend experience the effects of a sexual assault. The documentary, Hunting Ground, which detailed a culture of cover-ups in college settings, motivated Malinowski to help current and future students in understanding the culture on a campus and what resources are available.
While the primary goal is for the database to be a resource for students, Malinowski hopes for more. “I hope this becomes a force that encourages colleges to do as much as possible to improve their sexual assault statistics and resources. Right now, this topic isn’t something most people consider when choosing a school, but if we start promoting that students should factor in college safety and justice, students would more carefully choose a school that would provide the best environment for them,” Malinowski states. “It’s something a lot of students already care about, but isn’t usually a topic that colleges openly discuss with potential students. It’s time for that to change.”
Malinowski partnered with a team of students and with the Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services of DuPage to create the database. “Project Dandelion is a chance to help students investigate their concerns without spending hours online, while also raising awareness for the topic in general. I know for me already, I have begun to look at college safety through a more critical lens after creating this site. I really hope that it helps other students the same way it helps me,” stated Malinowski. Project Dandelion is sponsored by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Girl Scouts, and Metropolitan Family Services of DuPage. The database can be found at www.projectdandelion.weebly.com.
On Friday, January 10, at 7:00 p.m., Malinowski will present her database to the public, discussing how to use it and what she hopes visitors gain from it. The presentation will be held at the Downers Grove Public Library in the first floor Meeting Room, followed by a reception.