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Students Arrange Cell Phone Drive for Domestic Violence Victims

Peder Aalgaard | Staff Writer | 11-19-2011

Last week, students in Dr. Janet Prater’s domestic violence course held a cell phone drive in the Lower Hobson Union to benefit the Family Safety Network in Walker. The drive was run by Matt Casey, Abigail Connly, and Tanner Little who opted to do a productive project for the class rather than a research paper.

As far as they knew, the drive had never been done through Bemidji State University before. They got the opportunity to run the drive when the Family Safety Network director, Chris Swenson, visited the class as a guest speaker. When asking if there was anything they could help with, Swenson mentioned that the phone drive would benefit from volunteers at BSU.

The phones would be given to people who are trying to get out of abusive relationships. Each working phone would be donated to offer someone a way to make 911 calls during an emergency. Since phones do not need a service provider to make 911 calls, the phones provide a free way for families to call for help in times of danger.  The drive collected eight phones and eight chargers from different students. “If one cell phone saves one life, the entire drive has been worth while,” Connly said.
The students behind this event were glad to know that they were making some sort of difference with their project. They want people to know that domestic violence is a topic that needs to be addressed more. Some of the facts they provided were that victims in white families will try to leave their abuser between seven and nine times before completely ending the relationship; victims in Native American families attempt to leave the abuser 22 times. And while there are an estimated 6 million domestic assaults each year, it is difficult to say how many for sure due to occurrences that go unreported by the victim.
Dr. Janet Prater has taught the domestic violence class for six years, this being the sixth and final year. She will be leaving the end of this year but she hopes she will not take the class with her. She believes the course is important and has seen students benefit from taking it. Some of her former students now have jobs that require them to use what they learned on an everyday basis.

“It’s nice,” she said, “to see students in a position where they can use this.” During her time here, she has worked on multiple events designed to help work for a safer domestic life for everyone, such as the Peace Walk with Northwood Coalition and a mini conference called Breaking the Silence with Nokomagiisis.

Students that still want to donate cell phones can drop them off in Dr. Prater’s mailbox. Any donation can help to make life better for someone in need.