University YWCA says enough to violence

By Alissa Groeninger

Week Without Violence, which began in the 1990s as a grassroots campaign, is now a global initiative around the world, and the University’s YWCA started its 15th annual violence awareness week Sunday.

The YWCA in Champaign is taking the opportunity to educate students about the negative effects of violence around the world.

Every country has a different week dedicated to this cause. For example, Canada’s Week Without Violence was last week.

“Some guidelines must be followed, but it is generally a collaborative effort among all the countries,” said Lisha Banks, executive director at the YWCA in Champaign. “The University of Illinois has one of the oldest university-affiliated YWCAs and the events are tailored to the campus and student community.”

One of the traditions the YWCA is starting this year is chalking the Quad, which took place on Sunday. Chalkers sketched outlines representing worldwide violence issues and relevant phone numbers for people looking to address those concerns.

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Leaders from Registered Student Organizations volunteered for this activity, Banks said.

“(Violence) is in our homes, school communities and campus, and this is the opportunity for the campus to speak out,” said Rachael Dietkus-Miller, associate director at the YWCA.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five young women have been a victim of some form of dating violence and there are almost 200,000 victims of sexual assault and rape annually.

The association will sponsor a list of events throughout the week to educate students about the causes and effects of violence.

These events include Monday’s lecture by Rachel Durschlag, director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, about the negative effects of pornographic violence.

Later in the week, the association will also show a movie about abuse in Senegal and a lecture about drunk driving by Mark Sterner, who earlier in his life killed three of his friends while driving under the influence. Sterner has since become a motivational speaker educating others about the dangers of drunk driving.

“They try to bring Mark Sterner on campus at least once in four years so each student gets to see him once at least,” Banks said.

All the YWCA’s events are free of charge.