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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA organizations take action to increase domestic violence awareness

October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and several organizations at the UA are working to make sure this designation does not go unnoticed.

Students Promoting Empowering and Consent, a division of the Women’s Resource Center, is one of these on-campus organizations. SPEAC has worked to put together events about domestic violence throughout October.

According to Idara Ekpoh, a physiology senior and a SPEAC intern, the organization aims to table on the UA Mall every week and put on around two events each week in October.

Some of these events are targeted to more specific audiences. Ekpoh recently put together an event with the Black Student Union to discuss domestic violence among black communities.

“We had a whole discussion about what domestic violence is in our community in general and what it is in our specific communities and how it affects us on personal levels,” Ekpoh said.

SPEAC also collaborates with fellow WRC group Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, Change and Empower for events such as Sip n’ Bitch, a discussion where attendees can talk about their personal situations as well as come together to share what they know about domestic violence.

“I think that when people come, they expect just like a ‘this is bad, this is good,’ and it’s really eye-opening,” Ekpoh said. “I don’t think you realize how much of a problem [domestic violence] really is, so when you come to these events and people are feeling comfortable enough to share their stories, it makes you understand that these are real-life problems and this is something that’s affecting a lot of people and something that shouldn’t be happening.”

According to Ekpoh, there are usually anywhere from 30 to 50 people at each event, something that is surprising but encouraging to her.

“I expected people to come, but the amount of people that come out is ridiculous,” Ekpoh said. “It’s really great to see that people are actually wanting to try to do their part in saying what they can to stop domestic violence.”

Another group that is also focused on doing its part to stop domestic violence is the sorority Alpha Chi Omega, which has Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse as its main philanthropic focus. The sorority hosts several events during October to raise awareness for domestic violence.

“October is our month,” said Tia Ferrara, a business management junior and the Alpha Chi Omega external philanthropy chair. “We love it.”

These events include a luminary event on the UA Mall and Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi, an event that raised money for the Emerge! Center through the sale of pizza. The sorority donates 80 percent of these funds to local philanthropies like the Emerge! Center and 20 percent to its national foundation. The funds for the Emerge! Center go toward supplies for the shelter as well as its efforts to raise domestic violence awareness.

“Domestic violence is a horrible thing, and we want to eradicate it,” Ferrara said. “But we want to focus on what’s being done to shift that, and make it so that domestic violence isn’t a part of our society anymore.”

SPEAC’s focuses on stalking and sexual assault in addition to domestic violence. While there are programs and workshops centered around those other topics, domestic violence awareness is interwoven in programs throughout the year. 

SPEAC plans on working with Residence Life soon to increase awareness of all three of their focuses to students, and Ekpoh emphasized that the WRC is there to help those who need it.

“We’re just trying to be a point of contact for students to come and feel comfortable, and so we can point them to what resources they have and what choices they actually do have, instead of feeling alone,” Ekpoh said.

One of these resources is the University of Arizona Police Department. UAPD officers can step in and enter situations in which domestic violence is occurring, and in some cases, they can arrest perpetrators for committing acts of domestic violence.

UAPD also has a LiveSafe app that allows people to text or send picture or video reports to the police.
Sgt. Filbert Barrera, the UAPD Public Information Officer, urged the importance of telling the police when there is a problem.

“We’re trying to communicate with the students in a different way—the way that they like to communicate,” Barrera said. “We want people to talk. We want people to tell us.”

Both Ekpoh and Ferrara said that domestic violence is more than just physical violence; it can include financial, emotional and psychological abuse. Ferrara said that it is common for people to not know the various forms of domestic violence.

“There’s so many different things that can be considered domestic violence that people just don’t realize that they may be experiencing it,” she said. “We’re really trying to promote that we’re trying to do something good about this, and so let’s work together and eradicate this behavior, and so I hope it’s getting a little bit of notice out there.”

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Kendal Washington White, the dean of students and the UA’s deputy Title IX coordinator, Susan Wilson, the senior Title IX investigator, and Title IX investigator Karen Jordan are each available as resources for students.

If the abuser is another student at the UA, students can contact the Dean of Students Office, where they may file a Title IX complaint. The Dean of Students Office can also help survivors with academic, housing and other accommodations, regardless of who the abuser is.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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