Class takes action against domestic violence, sexual assault

By University Communications
December 5, 2014
Students who presented at the Eau Claire County Jail, from left, Whitney Fenne, Molly Harvey, Molly Mathys and Joe Strano.

Photo: From left: Whitney Fenne, Molly Harvey, Molly Mathys and Joe Strano

With several high-profile cases involving National Football League players, including Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Ray Rice formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, domestic violence and sexual assault have been in the national headlines in the fall.

A series of commercials on national television have featured men associated with the NFL saying “no more” to such crimes, part of the national No More campaign.

UW-Stout students, once again, are saying “no more” as well. A total of 31 students in the Abuse and the Family class went beyond the classroom and spoke out about the issues with five social action projects.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Five groups of UW-Stout students conducted annual awareness outreach programs at two schools, a jail and an ex-offender facility in west-central Wisconsin. The presentations reached about 200 people.

Students use interactive activities, including role-playing, and videos grounded in current research in the field.

“It is not enough to just want to help people; our students need to be proactive agents, get out into the community and learn that big problems can be broken down into pieces that you can take action on and make a difference with,” said Susan Wolfgram, a professor in the human development and family studies department who teaches the class.

One primary message is that men can be part of the solution, Wolfgram said. A focus in the presentations was placed on men leading other men in the effort to create nonviolent communities, bystander intervention and the importance of consent.

The outreach projects and UW-Stout students involved are:

  • Menomonie Middle School: Shelby Rosty Anderson, of Prescott, project manager; Rachael Schwenn, of Eagle River; David Linsmeyer, of Mauston; Corrin Gillie, of St. Paul; and Thomas Wick, of Turtle Lake
  • New Richmond High School: Teresa Silcox, of Menomonie , project manager; Marie Jacobs, of St. Paul; Kari Parks, of Spring, Texas; Nicole Cohen, of Brillion;and Jake Theis, of Shawano
  • Dunn County Jail: Rebecca McInnis, of Cadott, project manager; Eliza Lo, of Appleton; Taylor Clausen, of Rice Lake; Kayla Thorson, of Appleton; Taylor Workman, of Prior Lake, Minn.; David Christoffel, of Colfax; and Tommy Xiong, of Eau Claire
  • Eau Claire County Jail: Whitney Fenne, of Columbus, Minn., project manager; Molly Harvey, of Cottage Grove, Minn.; Molly Mathys, of Savage, Minn.; and Joe Strano, of Farmington, Minn.
  • Eau Claire Transitions Center for Ex-offender Re-entry: Claire Burkard, of La Crosse, project manager; Katelyn O’Brien, of Watertown, Minn.; Chloe Fetter, of Hudson; James Lor, of Wausau; and Benjamin Burich, of Byron, Minn.

A sixth group of students is working on the annual Hope for the Holidays concert Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Waterfront Bar and Grill in Menomonie. The concert benefits Bridge to Hope, a domestic violence and sexual assault agency in Dunn and Pepin counties. Read more here >>.

Wolfgram believes in the power of her students reaching out to the schools and jails. “If you change one person, you have the potential to change a generation,” she said.

The majority of students in the Abuse and the Family class are majoring in human development and family studies. Learn more about the undergraduate program here >>.