WAC marches for domestic violence awareness

The Womyn's Action Coalition hosted a march for domestic violence awareness on Oct. 28 called "Walk with Me" that started outside of the College Union and ended on the Green.

The event was well-attended, with approximately 50 students present. The march, a non-funded function, was a statewide initiative and introduced by assemblywoman Naomi Rivera of the Bronx.

Senior Lindsey Wiltse, vice president of WAC, said this is an important because it "affects not only extended family members, but college students' lives, as well." Domestic violence exists in the lives of one in four women nationwide.

Wiltse joined WAC her freshman year due to an interest in feminism that began in high school. Wiltse's grandmother was a victim of domestic violence and she has heard the tragic stories from her father throughout the years.

Senior Dani VanAuken, president of WAC, has also experienced the tragedy of secondhand domestic abuse as she watched her older sister engage in an unhealthy relationship. She related stories of her sister being held with a knife and choked.

VanAuken said she understands the hardship of being in a position that is hard to get out of. "It's hard when you share everything financially," she said. "It's hard to get it out of your life."

VanAuken sends a message that, by working with WAC, she'd like to "try to empower those affected by domestic violence to get out and be strong. You're not worthless," she said. "Even though you've been told so. There are local resources and hotlines at your disposal. Be strong."

Janet Epstein, a sophomore, also has experience with the domestic abuse of a friend. "It's really upsetting because she's really nice and needs to know that people can help her," Epstein said.

"Issues like this [dating violence] are top priority for those involved in WAC," VanAuken said. There are many upcoming opportunities to get involved: WAC promotes monthly volunteer projects called Chances and Changes.

In addition, there will be a seminar on Tuesday, Nov. 3, presented by interim assistant University Police chief Joe VanRemmen called "When Love Hurts: Date Violence on Campus." This event is being held in Onondaga Hall at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by Human Resources and the University Police Department. Dating violence and healthy versus unhealthy relationships will be discussed.

Those interested in joining WAC can attend the weekly meetings, which are held every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the MOSAIC center in the Union.