More than 100 communities across Alaska participated in the Choose Respect march on March 27 to combat domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. The Choose Respect campaign began in 2009 when Gov. Sean Parnell pledged that Alaska would take every step necessary to address the serious problem of domestic violence and sexual assault in the community.
This year, members of UAA’s NO MORE campaign chapter participated in the march.
NO MORE is a national campaign that was started by Mariska Hargitay and the Joyful Heart Foundation to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. The campaign is designed as an easy tool for organizers to bring awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault to the community.
UAA’s NO MORE campaign recently hosted a standing room-only kickoff event and is gaining momentum. After the kickoff, they received a large anonymous donation and nearly tripled their likes on Facebook.
Student organizers Simona Gerdts and Kristen Speyerer brought the campaign to raise awareness of Alaska’s major problem of domestic violence and sexual assault, on campus.
Gerdts said UAA is the prefect place to start the campaign because it is a community institution. By bringing this campaign to campus, Gerdts and Speyerer hope to bring awareness of the problem to the future leaders of Alaska.
According to the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, 58 percent of Alaska women have experienced intimate partner or sexual violence, 47.6 percent have experienced intimate partner violence and 37.1 percent have experienced sexual violence.
According to Speyerer, domestic violence and sexual assault affects everyone. “It (the victim) can be a professor. It can be a student. It can be a staff member,” Speyerer said. “It’s (the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault) from all socioeconomic levels, all education levels. UAA is very diverse, and we do have a commuter campus here. These are our future leaders, and they need to be aware of the problem and how they can help reduce it. In Alaska, it’s an epidemic.”
In bringing to light the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault in the community, the NO MORE campaign hopes to end the stigmatization of victims. Anyone, regardless of gender, can be a victim of these crimes.
Members of the NO MORE campaign will be at the Student Resource Fair on April 17.