Updated: Oct. 5, 2015 at 9:32 p.m.
One GW student is helping to bring together students throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia to end sexual and dating violence on college campuses.
Senior Ariella Neckritz, president of Students Against Sexual Assault, is helping to launch the first student-based coalition of activists committed to raising awareness surrounding domestic and sexual violence on college campuses in the region.
The group comes less than a year after GW officials signed on to a partnership with other local universities to receive domestic violence prevention training.
Neckritz has worked to link GW with other area universities in the area including the University of the District of Columbia and American, Georgetown and Catholic universities. While she is focused on just D.C. for now, she plans to expand to other universities in the DMV.
“We want to stop the singularity around this issue, so when you hear people say, ‘Oh well that just happened at GW,’ well it didn’t just happen at GW. This is a problem that exists across the nation and affects people everywhere,” Neckritz said.
The Loveisrespect Campus Network began in June and will hold events and share resources across campus.
The group was launched with financial support of existing organizations, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and its subsidiary organization Loveisrespect by paying interns a small stipend. Neckritz and other interns are paid a stipend during the semester for organizing events on their individual campuses, but she has worked to build the coalition outside of the internship.
The idea for a network gained momentum at a panel discussion with the CEO of the National Domestic Hotline held at Georgetown University over the summer. The talk brought together more than 75 administrators, student leaders and activists from colleges and universities throughout the DMV. She said that meeting was a “pivotal moment” in creating the coalition.
The first on-campus event at GW will be the Week of Action and Education from Oct. 12 to 15, and will take place on Georgetown and American universities’ campuses, too. During the week, Neckritz and other student leaders will cover four different topics: domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and bystander intervention.
Neckritz said Loveisrespect focuses on domestic violence because it isn’t discussed as often on college campuses as sexual assault. With a region-wide network of students, Neckritz said they can work together to bring more awareness and resources to survivors and other students.
“By working together, we help to highlight this as an issue that all of these campuses need to address, and we all need to work on in terms of ensuring safe and healthy communities,” Neckritz said.
Olivia Hinerfeld, a junior at Georgetown University who started the idea of a coalition, said she hopes that because the group is being started by D.C. students, it will be more successful because it’s starting from the bottom up.
“We are ensuring that a significant number of community and campus partners are brought to the table. This coordination is the key to creating long-lasting change,” Hinerfeld said.
As summer interns at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Nancy Vo, a senior at the University of Maryland, and Hinerfeld came up with the idea to explore the context of sexual assault on campus by surveying the eight campuses that ended up participating in the panel and joining the coalition.
“We decided to take what was already existing and pull the best pieces from that and make it into a brand new network, uniting what we had in different campuses,” Vo said.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the coalition’s first official event will take place in October. The first on-campus event will take place in October. This post was also updated to reflect the following clarification: While Neckritz is helping other students with the network, she did not start it by herself.