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Eating, talking turkey, and taking a stand against violence

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | NOVEMBER 16, 2009 7:22 AM

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The setting was friendly and relaxed, but the message was a serious one.

Fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, along with the Men’s Antiviolence Council, organized a Thanksgiving-style dinner on Sunday to raise awareness about domestic violence towards women.

“The whole goal is prevention,” said Jerrod Koon, the council’s coordinator and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Jack Gende, the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter president and member of the Antiviolence Council, agreed, noting the relationship between the fraternity and antiviolence organization is in its first year.

“It’s going really well so far,” he said.

Koon shared Gende’s enthusiasm about the partnership and the event.

“I’d love to see this become something we do every year,” Koon said.

The Men’s Antiviolence Council — founded three semesters ago with four members — is part of a larger UI organization, the Womens’ Resource and Action Center, which dates back to 1971. The council has more than doubled in members since its founding and now boasts 13 trained volunteers.

Many organizations aim to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women. But this group is a little different than the rest — all of its members are men. Koon said that because domestic violence affects both men and women, it is important to bring both sexes together for discussion and action.

“We’re not going to solve anything about violence by including one sex or group,” he said.

Sorority members at the dinner agreed that it’s good to see men speaking out on the issue. Riley Flodin, a member of Pi Beta Phi and one of the roughly 100 sorority members at the event, said she was happy to see the fraternity’s commitment to the cause.

“It’s usually women,” she said. “Seeing all the guys involved is great.”

Ticket sales and donations generated from the dinner will be split between Iowa City’s Domestic Violence Intervention Program and the White Ribbon Campaign. Food leftover from the dinner was donated to the city’s Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

Kristie Doser, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, said a growing number of domestic-violence cases in the Iowa City area is proof that groups such as hers need support from the community.

The program saw 1,870 patients for counseling and services in 2009 — an increase from 1,008 in fiscal year 2000, Doser said.

“That’s a pretty dramatic increase for a little less than a decade,” she said.

Koon echoed the sentiment, citing increasing violence in the area as one catalyst for founding the group in Iowa City. After a wave of around 40 attacks against women in Iowa City during the fall of 2007, many on campus called for increased awareness among males concerning violence against women.

“Men are in a very unique position and have a tremendous impact on men around them,” Doser said.


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