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Alpha Chi Omega’s domestic violence awareness philanthropy brings light to UA

Rebecca+Noble+%2F++The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AMembers+of+Alpha+Chi+Omega+set+out+luminaries+with+anti-domestic+abuse+sentiments+on+the+UA+mall+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+14.+All+funds+raised+by+the+sorority+will+go+to+benefit+Emerge%21+Center+Against+Domestic+Abuse
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildca
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat Members of Alpha Chi Omega set out luminaries with anti-domestic abuse sentiments on the UA mall on Tuesday, Oct. 14. All funds raised by the sorority will go to benefit Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse

More than one hundred members of Alpha Chi Omega lined the UA Mall with luminaries Tuesday night to raise awareness about domestic violence on the UA campus.

For the luminaries event, AXO members put lights inside paper bags with messages they wanted to spread about domestic violence. Domestic violence awareness is AXO’s philanthropy event, and the luminary ceremony occurred during the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

After placing the bags along the wall, Caitli Walsh-Betteker, domestic violence chair of AXO, addressed the group and shared the “One Love Pledge” that the members of the sorority signed.

Those who took the pledge promised to become educated about domestic violence, share that information with others, and to change social norms around domestic violence and the way people talk about the issue.

According to Walsh-Betteker, one in four college women are subjected to domestic violence.

“It’s a really silent issue, but a really important issue,” Walsh-Betteker said. “It’s something that is serious and should be talked about.”

Walsh-Betteker led the group of women in a moment of silence and invited them to share the reasons why this philanthropy resonates with them.

The women who spoke up said that they wanted people to be more educated on domestic violence, to change the way domestic violence is treated in society and to spread awareness.

Katelyn Connors, vice president of philanthropy for AXO, shared a story of how her mother was touched by their philanthropy, because her mother had been in a relationship where she was too afraid to talk about what her partner had been doing.

“I think we’re giving a voice to something that doesn’t really have a voice,” Connors said, “because if you haven’t experienced it, then you don’t really think about it.”

Kiersten Zaelit, chapter president of AXO, said people need to be aware of all the different types of relationship abuse.

“It’s not just somebody hitting somebody else,” Zaelit said. “It’s words you say. The different types of domestic violence are really important to me so people can be aware of it and help people around them or themselves.”

Members of AXO also shared their ideas for how they hope this campaign will change the UA campus.

Walsh-Betteker said she hopes it will help eliminate the fear that comes with talking about domestic violence.

“We would just love to see this campus not be afraid to talk about it,” Walsh-Betteker said. “It’s so serious, and so many women are affected by it. We want people to be comfortable to say something.”

Caitlyn Sprong, a chapter consultant for AXO, said she wants students to be more educated on domestic violence.

“I think that one change that could happen on campus is education,” Sprong said. “Educating them on what a relationship should be like, what is love and how love shouldn’t hurt and providing that education. Just providing those resources on how to educate everyone on campus.”

According to Zaelit, this is one of the most important issues to AXO.

“I think a lot of girls are very passionate about this,” Zaelit said, “so they wanted to be here, and they wanted to raise awareness.”

Walsh-Betteker said that on Nov. 21, AXO will hold another event to support domestic violence awareness. “Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi,” a food event at the sorority house, will donate all proceeds to the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse in Tucson.

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Follow Max Rodriguez on Twitter.

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