Students say No More to domestic violence, sexual assault

11080465_364353530356674_7684137154762991455_oStudents at Ohio State Mansfield are saying No More to domestic violence and sexual assault by forming a new chapter at the campus. The campus chapter is the first of its kind in the state.

Launched in March 2013 by a coalition of advocacy groups, the U.S. Department of Justice and others, No More is supported by thousands who want to increase visibility for domestic violence and sexual assault.

Kathy Ezawa, director for the Domestic Violence Shelter, which serves Richland and Huron counties, broached Diversity and Family Engagement Director Renee Thompson with the idea to start a chapter at the campus.

“I’m excited to be partnering with Ohio State Mansfield and students who have such a vision for compassion and leadership in our community,” Ezawa said.

Graduate Social Work student Ashley Foust, who interns for the Diversity program, set plans in motion.

“I thought it was definitely something we should have on campus,” Foust said. “It’s an inherent problem on college campuses because kids are out on their own for the first time. They might not be connecting with their parents about relationships so they might accept things that aren’t acceptable.”

Ezawa said, “Once we formed the group then the students were highly motivated to be involved in a process where their voices could be heard and they could make a difference.”

In collaboration with the College of Social Work Student Association, the fledgling chapter organized two events – a photo booth where students, faculty and staff could photograph their response to No More, and the official chapter launch with talks from a domestic violence victim and a county prosecutor.

“It was a huge collaboration and it happened unexpectedly,” said Quinn Johnston, a member of the social work club.

Johnston found herself in an abusive relationship on the Columbus campus in 2006. She says she didn’t have the support system to keep her on track, so she stopped going to classes and eventually was dismissed from the university.

“Most of us know someone who has been affected by sexual assault and domestic violence but you don’t hear people talking about it,” she said. “No More focuses on putting an end to the violence through open communication.”

The chapter already is planning activities in conjunction with Welcome Week and orientation in the fall. Foust hopes the group can bring more awareness and a voice to the issue.

“Just speaking up can stop a lot of the behaviors and cause people to think about their actions,” Foust said.

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