NDSU hosts many student organizations, all contributing to campus life in different ways. Student organizations are responsible for the events engaging, educating, and connecting campus. Building a strong and healthy community goes a long way in college, and the Violence Prevention Educators (VPEs) demonstrate this well.
“The violence prevention educators are a group of students who work to put on different events to empower and provide resources for people who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking,” said Autumn Kranz, a third-year VPE.
Adding, “It’s an issue on campus and in general too, so it’s important to be on the preventative side… and to spread awareness.” 13% of college students experience sexual assault. Young women in college are three times as likely to experience sexual assault than women overall, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
The VPEs combat this problem and support victims by hosting events, directly educating peers, and bringing awareness to the issues. Take Back the Night, which was canceled this year due to weather, is one of their biggest events. The event has many components, but it is about bringing together the community for one night to rally around this issue.
A Halloween costume contest was another event put on by the VPEs. Denim Day and Purple Thursday encourage all NDSU students to wear denim or purple clothes to show public support and build awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The VPEs can be seen tabling in the Memorial Union frequently throughout the year, along with an Instragm account (@ndsuvpes) that promotes events and educational information. They also assist with direct training for students surrounding violence prevention.
There is also a food drive for Dating Violence Awareness Month in February. This year they collected over 500 items, according to Kranz. The food drive supports the Good for the Herd Food Pantry, located at the bottom of the stairs in the back of the bookstore. This was Kranz’s most memorable moment “to bring all of the food to the pantry as they were just so appreciative.” It was “half empty, and we made it full again, which was a really great feeling and a really great thing to walk away with.”
The work VPEs do relies on student initiative. Their volunteering makes these opportunities available. “People should become a VPE because this issue impacts everybody in different ways, whether it has happened to you, to a loved one or to a friend,” said Kranz.
Currently, the group consists of eleven volunteers. New members go through training. Up to five hours a week is expected, but “it’s usually just one hour a week, or slightly more if there’s a bigger event going on.”
For member qualifications, “there’s nothing specific as long as you have an open mind and an open heart.” Apart from contributing to building a better and safer world, Kranz has “built different skills like public speaking, event planning and program development.”Highlighting, being a VPE “provides a group of understanding individuals and just the most kind-hearted people…that’s one of the greatest things I’ve gotten out of it.”