Sacred Heart students, faculty and guests united at the annual “White Ribbon Campaign” recently with a common purpose—to take part in an international effort to stop violence against women. The initiative was headed by the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
The White Ribbon Campaign’s website describes the organization as “the largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.”
The organization was established in 1991 by four men who felt a need to take action following The Montreal Massacre on Dec. 6, 1989, when a single gunman killed 13 female students and a female worker at the École Polytechnique. He also injured 10 other women and four men before killing himself. A note he left behind cited politics and a hatred of feminists as reasons for his actions. Afterward, the four set out to educate men around the world about the need to stop domestic violence, and their commitment to the cause sparked the first of many pledge movements.
The Delta Tau Delta fraternity at SHU has embraced that mission and, for the third consecutive year, coordinated an event to raise awareness. Its main goal was to engage men in the process of social change by having them sign pledges to remain committed to their responsibility to end violence. This year, these pledges were signed digitally for the first time and were sent automatically to the campaign’s international database.
“Our goal when planning this event is always to get the men of the Sacred Heart community to come out and educate themselves on abuse,” said Delta Tau Delta philanthropy chair Ryan Borchardt ’18. “By taking the pledge, they vow to never harm a woman and to help any woman in an abusive relationship break the cycle of abuse.”
“It is an event that has been an important part of our fraternity’s philanthropy,” said Delta Tau Delta’s former philanthropy chairman, Christian Daley ’17. “Hearing the speeches made each year about the importance of leadership in this cause and understanding the suffering of these women reaches people deeply. We all have a mother, a sister, a cousin, and it’s important for us to have the conversation.”
Approximately 100 people attended the event, where they were welcomed by fraternity members and SHU President John Petillo. Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Deborah Greenwood of the Center for Family Justice and Leonora Campbell, Title IX Coordinator at Sacred Heart, all spoke at the event.
Campbell informed participants about how to stay involved with the cause. She advised students who are interested to contact her on campus or reach out to organizations that strive to eliminate domestic violence and sexual misconduct.
The Center for Family Justice hosts events throughout the year, including the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” community walk, when men participate in high heels, symbolizing their attempt to understand the plight of women and raise awareness. Fraternity brothers participated in this year’s local walk in Fairfield.
“It’s amusing wearing the heels, of course, but the event really is much more than that,” said Daley. “It’s like saying, ‘We are willing to make a conscious effort not only to understand it, but to stop it.’”