Indiana University Kokomo hosted its annual Not On Our Campus, Not in Our Community rally and walk, with 450 participants raising approximately $14,000 for the Family Service Association of Howard County (FSA)’s domestic violence shelter.
In the 13 years the campus has hosted the event, it has raised approximately $195,000 for the shelter and its programs.
Tracy Martino, FSA executive director, said it costs approximately $860,000 to run the shelter each year, so the financial support is much appreciated.
“If it wasn’t for our community partners, like IU Kokomo, we could not run the shelter,” she said. “I am so proud of the students here for their dedication to stopping domestic violence.”
Just as importantly, the rally and walk educates students and community members about sexual assault and violence, and the resources available to help.
“We want our students and our community to know how loudly we say, ‘Not on our campus, and not in our community,’” said Kate Aguilar, coordinator of student life and campus diversity. “We want them to know we are here to help them lead healthy and fulfilled lives, inside and outside the classroom.
She noted that nationwide, one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, and IU Kokomo’s student population is 70 percent women.
“This issue does not only affect women. It is important for us to take a strong stand against sexual assault,” she said. “We are also committed to supporting the FSA’s efforts to raising awareness and providing resources to help people change their circumstances.”
Health sciences students created educational presentations to display in Upper Alumni Hall during the rally. Katie Frissell, Noblesville; Wendy Carter, Kokomo; and Andrea Zepeda, Logansport, made bookmarks with FSA contact and resource information, small enough to be hidden by someone preparing to flee an abusive relationship.
They visited the shelter while preparing for their project, and were surprised by the number of people impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. Zepeda said it is important to educate college students, because many believe it can’t happen to them.
“It’s a serious epidemic, and it affects everyone,” she said. “As college students, we’re in denial sometimes that it happens to people around us. We need to be able to help ourselves and others.”
Elwood resident Alison Hendrick helped plan the rally and walk as the campus student health and wellness intern.
“Our campus community needs to know this is an issue, and we have to take a stand against it,” she said. “We have to understand how close to home this is, and know what services are available to us for help, both on the campus and in the community.”
Each year, the rally features a talk from a survivor of domestic violence, putting a face on the issue, and reminding participants why they are raising money to help.
Stacie told her story of growing up with a controlling and abusive mother, and her determination that her own daughter would never know violence first-hand. However, during her daughter’s junior year in high school, she became friends with a man she had known in high school, building a close “best friends only” relationship.
When she told him she’d been asked out on a date, her friend didn’t speak to her for a few days, but then showed up at her house, tying her up and holding her hostage in her home for three days. When she escaped, law enforcement officials told her they would file charges even if she did not. She chose to file charges, and her abuser spent seven years in prison.
“I knew I had to stand up for myself, my daughter, and her friends, and show them it’s not OK for someone to do this,” she said, adding that she speaks out to prevent others from being victims. “I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.”
Teams of students, faculty, staff, and community members raised money to participate in the one-mile walk through campus and up Washington Street. Campus organizations raised more than $3,000. The top student organization was Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, with $1,287. Among faculty and staff teams, the Office of Student Success and Advising was the top fundraiser, with $475.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana