Domestic violence and sexual assault are two causes that I hold really true to my heart. October is domestic violence awareness month, so I have decided to use this month to educate the campus and do what I can to spread awareness.
I planned a series of LEAD events educating and highlight the cause. I have hosted two events so far, and both were very successful. My second event actually had 94 students in attendance, and it was amazing!
My first event was Friday, October 9. It was titled "Remember My Name." We read and analyzed a poem written over a decade ago, in 1995, by Kimberly A. Collins "Remember My Name." It is a poem that has been used by Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) observances to memorialize victims that have lost their lives to the horrific epidemic of domestic violence.
We went stanza by stanza and spoke about what the words meant and the impact they had. At the end, students wrote a poem of their own using their name. Each letter of their name was used to begin an adjective or sentence for what they want to be remembered by. We can be remembered for what we wish to be and not for being a victim.
On Thursday, October 15 I hosted my second event titled "A Brief Message." Students learned about the Brief Message campaign that combats domestic violence and sexual assault. Topics that will be highlighted were: domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes that will not be tolerated; freedom from violence and from the fear of violence is a basic right; sexual assault may accompany domestic violence; and general members of the community can do something about domestic violence. Students in attendance created a brief message of their own.
My next and final LEAD event I am hosting is Thursday, October 29. This event is a Ted Talk video. Leslie Morgan Steiner was in crazy love -- that is, madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. Steiner tells the dark story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence, and explaining how we can all help break the silence. There will be questions and a collaborative discussion to follow the video.
I am so lucky to attend an institution where I am able to put on events that I want and a huge thank you to Beth Oseroff for being the faculty sponsor for my events.
I would love comments on how to spread more awareness.
Thanks for reading!
Perhaps a little backstory would be helpful. Every sorority and fraternity on campus has an organization (or "philanthropy") that they support, and each sorority and fraternity gets one week out of the school year dedicated to raising money and awareness for their cause. This week was Lyrefest, the philanthropy week for Alpha Chi Omega!! We held several fun events this week to rally support for our organization, CARDV (Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence).
Tuesday night the other sororities and fraternities at WWU and Westminster College played Capture The Flag in the gym! First the girls competed, and then the guys. I have to say, some of the fraternity guys got a little intense at times! My sisters and I had a blast cheering on all the players. One of WWU's very own fraternities, Phi Gamma Delta (affectionately known as "Fiji") came home with first place for the guys, and WWU's Chi Omega chapter won first for the girls!
Wednesday night was my favorite event: serenades! For this event, each participating sorority and fraternity picked a couple well-known songs and changed some of the lyrics to make them specifically about Alpha Chi Omega and/or the fight against domestic violence. Every year, they ways to work the seniors' names into the songs, which is always fun! After attending serenades for four years, it was pretty crazy to finally get to sit in the front row and hear people throw my name out! We basically got to sit in our basement and be serenaded for several hours... It was a great time! Fiji won first again for the guys, and this time Alpha Phi took home first for the girls!
Thursday we held the final event: Lyre Lord and Lyre Lady. Each sorority and fraternity picks one or two people to represent them in this event, which is kind of similar to a pageant. The contestants answer questions about domestic violence statistics and show off one of their unique talents. Sometimes people sing, juggle, dance, recite poetry... The talents people possess are practically endless! This year, Chasah from Delta Gamma was crowned Lyre Lady for interpreting a song into American Sign Language as it played over the loudspeakers. Keegan from Kappa Alpha at Westminster was crowned Lyre Lord for his robotic dance moves.
Everyone at Alpha Chi counts down to this week for a really long time, and it always goes by way too quickly! While ours only comes once a year, there are enough sororities and fraternities at WWU and Westminster that we usually don't have to wait very long for the next group's philanthropy week to come around, and then we get to return the favor by participating in all of their events! Philanthropy weeks are a wonderful way to get out of your comfort zone and try new things while hanging out with a bunch of wonderful people. They are definitely going to be one of the things I miss the most about my experience here at WWU!