West Liberty Students Break the Silence

Photos Provided From left, Lindsay Dowdle, Meredith Garner and Billy Campbell take part in the walk to raise awareness on domestic violence Wednesday at West Liberty University.

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University’s Lambda Psi Sigma sorority raised awareness on the issue of domestic violence during a Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence walk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday. Open to the public, it was held on the Hoge Quadrangle, known as the quad.

“Domestic violence is an issue for colleges everywhere and West Liberty University takes it very seriously. We are proud of our students for taking a stand against this problem, which unfortunately is entirely too common in our nation today,” said President Stephen Greiner. “We value our students’ opinions and support them in their effort to break the silence.”

“We wanted to do this now because it’s domestic violence month. We think it’s an important issue on college campuses but sometimes it gets pushed aside and it shouldn’t be. So we invited community groups and other chapters to join us in raising awareness,” said senior Karly Wiley of Chester. Wiley is the president of the 42-member sorority and a speech pathology major.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, domestic violence is the willful intimidation as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It’s important to note that domestic violence doesn’t always manifest in one specific way.

The student-led walk included passing out T-shirts and other items to the public. Laptops also were available to sign the Women Against Abuse pledge, a national initiative founded in 1976 before the Family Violence Prevention Services Act was passed in 1984.

“We are doing something called #3laps. Those three laps symbolize the three lives lost daily due to domestic violence, nationally. We are doing this to educate everyone and raise awareness because not everyone is aware of the severity of domestic violence,” said WLU criminal justice graduate student Hannah Walters, who has raised funds in the past for the YWCA Wheeling and assisted in assembling care packages for the YWCA domestic violence emergency shelter.

Walters is from Williamstown, W.Va., and is in the criminology master’s program. She hopes to work with victims of domestic violence and children who have been victims of sexual abuse after she graduates in December.

The sorority also has reached out to other Greek Life groups on campus. Fraternities as well as sorority members and staff participated in the walk Wednesday.

Campus Activities coordinator Kate Billings oversees Greek Life out of the Office of Housing & Student Life and encourages students to learn more about preventing domestic violence throughout the year. Additionally, chief Human Resources officer Diana Harto is the Title IX coordinator for the university and may be reached at 304-336-8139 or via email at diana.harto@westliberty.edu. Title IX is a federal act that states: “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.”

Other events planned this month include a program titled Sexversation presented by the Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center’s Leslie Prince, planned for noon, Oct. 25. It will take place in the College Union. It is open to the public.