Vera House honors dean for work against domestic violence
A Syracuse University faculty member is taking the lead in a movement to stop domestic violence in the community.
Barry L. Wells, senior vice-president and dean of Student Affairs, was named honorary chair of the 2005 White Ribbon Campaign. The campaign is led by men who are attempting to raise awareness about domestic violence and to raise funds to help fight it, said Randi Bregman, executive director of administration of Vera House, Inc., which organizes the annual 10-day campaign.
‘Dean Wells was chosen in part because of the leadership he has shown in the (White Ribbon) committee, in trying to raise awareness about the role men can play and in stopping domestic violence,’ Bregman said.
This year, the campaign will be held from April 8 to April 17. The campaign kicks off with a march on April 8 from Clinton Square to Armory Square, said Paula Shortsleeve, executive assistant of Vera House. Participants will tie white ribbons around lampposts and trees as part of an effort to encourage all members of the community to wear white ribbons during the campaign, Shortsleeve said.
‘The white ribbons signify a promise never to commit or remain silent about domestic violence,’ she said.
The campaign raises money through donations, as well as through sales of the white ribbons and lapel pins, Shortsleeve said. The funds go toward supporting Alternatives, a Vera House program working with men who have been abusive in their relationships. Organizers hope to raise at least $51,000 in the campaign this year, she said.
Dean Wells led the campaign on the SU campus in 2004. SU raised over $2,500 that year, representing an 80 percent increase from the previous year.
Vera House is an organization offering assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and provides preventative education about those issues.
Bregman said the White Ribbon campaign is important in helping Vera House move beyond the ‘Band-Aid approach’ toward solving the problem of domestic violence, she said. Vera House offers help to victims by providing shelters and counseling services for them, but these are merely short-term solutions.
Bergman said the campaign aims to move beyond this approach and to go to the source of the problem by getting abusive partners to stop acting that way.
Some SU students profess apathy at the issue of domestic violence. Matt Sweeney, a freshman majoring in engineering, said he does not believe it is an issue that captures the attention of many people in his age group, including himself.
‘I don’t think too many of them are really interested in it,’ Sweeney said. ‘Unless it’s a problem that happens to people you know, you probably wouldn’t care too much about it.’
One reason people may not be concerned about the issue is because of the misconceptions surrounding the term ‘domestic violence,’ Bregman said. She hopes to make people realize it encompasses violence in relationships as well as marriages, a problem, which affects many people in Sweeney’s age group.
Statistics show 10 to 25 percent of students dating in high school and college are being abused, Bregman said. The term ‘domestic violence’ refers not simply to physical violence, but also to emotional abuse toward one’s partner.
Bregman believes the problem of domestic violence is more widespread than people think and cautioned against ignoring this issue.
‘The message we’re trying to get across is that violence is never OK and we want to be part of the solution,’ Bregman said. ‘If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.’
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