Two campus groups, the Men's Violence Prevention Project (MVPP) and Women's Empowerment and Violence Education (WEAVE), seek to stop gender violence through education, dialogue and community support for students.
The MVPP began in 1999 after receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that also funded WEAVE. Its central goal of ending violence against women has expanded to cover many issues concerning oppression.
“We [MVPP] support ending any and every form of oppression; the number one way we do that is by talking about our own privilege,” Joshua O'Donnell, the Men's Violence Prevention Project Coordinator said. “Ultimately we work on creating a healthier form of masculinity.”
The MVPP encourages men to be open and discuss their personal experiences with issues of oppression and privilege, Joshua said.
“One of the biggest things we do is create spaces where men can come together and talk about relationships,” he said. “We need to talk about our own experiences until we move into activism.”
Participants are encouraged to be introspective and engage in one-on-one work to better understand the issue and support others, Joshua said.
WEAVE, also formed in 1999, focuses on providing support for women affected by violence and education about violence prevention and related issues. It is a group of 13 to 20 women who take a Lifestyle Advisor class in the spring and then join WEAVE. The group presents dorm programs and puts on various events, such as the Night of Testimony and Western Women's Festival, which usually takes place in the spring.
“If there is violence on campus, they [WEAVE] like to address that with open forums or sign-holding,” Devlin O'Donnell, Coordinator of Crime and Sexual Assault Support Services (CASAS) and WEAVE said. “[WEAVE's goal is] to be a good support group for women after violence has occurred.”
Annie Pankiewicz, senior and member of WEAVE for three years, was drawn to the program by positive feedback from friends who had participated and by its mission to prevent gender violence.
“Educating yourself and others about violence prevention is so important,” she said. “One of the biggest things that WEAVE does is education and programming and letting everyone know what a healthy relationship is.”
WEAVE coordinates outreach efforts in the dorms and the community, including The Western Women's Festival, Pankiewicz said. The weeklong event has involved feminist speakers and a women's open mic night at the Underground Coffeehouse in the past, she said.
By taking preventative measures such as education and outreach, WEAVE teaches students how to make healthy and empowered decisions, Pankiewicz said.
Resources don't stop at these groups, either. Joshua suggested connecting with groups in the AS ROP such as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Alliance (LGBTA), the Social Issues Resource Center (SIRC) and the Women's Center, to name a few. University Police also provides resources for those affected by violence. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom Country is located downtown and also has a 24-hour hotline at 360-715-1563.
Information about CASAS is located through the Prevention and Wellness Services Web site, which is linked on the WWU homepage. The 24-hour CASAS hotline number is 360-650-3700. Devlin's office is located in Old Main 560B.