Preventing partner violence goal of APOBy Jennifer Leovy
This November, the community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega brought University-wide attention to the subjects of partner violence and sexual assault by organizing preventative and educational events during the national fraternitys Service Week 1998. Student Government, the Sexual Violence Prevention Resource Center at the University and the Community Service Fund co-sponsored the activities.
Alpha Phi Omega member Julie Harcum said the goal was to raise awareness of the causes and effects of partner violence and sexual assault to encourage healthy and peaceful interpersonal relations.
Fellow organizer Veena Iyer noted the importance of the phrase partner violence rather than domestic violence, as abuse does not always occur in a home or within a marriage. It can happen to people who are in committed relationships on campus, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, said Iyer. She noted this issue affects both men and women and hopes the weeks activities raised awareness in the minds of all students.
The coordinators organized such educational activities as The Role of Gender in Sexual Violence, a discussion moderated by Director of the Center for Gender Studies Leora Auslander; a self-defense class; a crisis-intervention workshop and a study break with organizations providing resource information.
In addition to displaying information in the Reynolds Club, Alpha Phi Omega members set up a candlelight memorial on the quads for victims of sexual assault and collected toiletries for victims of domestic violence staying in local shelters.
Iyer said the events were designed to allow people to get involved to whatever degree suited them. The study break was the most popular event with more than 150 people in attendance. That doesnt include the Reynolds Club traffic, where students could pick up flyers and view the Clothesline Project, T-shirts designed to remember those who have experienced abusive partnerships, said Iyer.
Event coordinator Sarah Lee said Alpha Phi Omega is especially appreciative of the facultys support. They were great in committing themselves to the various discussions and panels we had during the week.
Harcum emphasized the week of service is not an isolated event. We hope that the support we received during the week will find outlets. Already discussions have continued around these issues with the SVPRC, the Feminist Majority and even among individual students who believe that we must continue to act on these issues, said Harcum. I hope that our week of service was another way to add a log to the fire.
The University has six sexual-assault deans-on-calltrained sexual-assault advocates who are available 24 hours a day. They may be reached at 702-8181 or 834-HELP. The deans help survivors of sexual assault understand medical and legal processes, give emotional and logistical support, and identify valuable resources for follow-up care. They ensure victims privacy and remain involved for as long as victims prefer.