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Fighting The Fight

Local Matters


Published October 4, 2005 at 7:25 p.m.

UVM -- It's dangerous to assume that only certain kinds of men commit domestic abuse and only certain kinds of women are susceptible to it. Though it's widely assumed that domestic assaults are rare on college campuses, women between the ages of 19 and 25 are the most likely victims -- regardless of their educational background or socioeconomic status. In fact, 1 in 4 women will be abused by a partner at some point in her life.

A new student group at the University of Vermont is taking a stand against male-perpetrated violence -- and it's asking other men to do the same. On Monday, October 3, Men Advocating Change launched its "White Ribbon Campaign" to raise public awareness about sexual and domestic violence. About 70 people showed up in front of UVM's Waterman Building for the campaign kickoff, which is asking men to pledge to be nonviolent, confront violent behavior, and challenge sexist and oppressive comments and stereotypes. Men also are being asked to wear white ribbons throughout the month of October to show their support for the cause and raise public awareness.

"I don't believe that men are served well by a system that objectifies women [or] that forces men to uphold a certain standard of masculinity that is aggressive and violent," says Jim Leahy, the men's education coordinator at the Women's Rape Crisis Center in Burlington. "I think men really do suffer from that as much as women."

Men Advocating Change is a relatively new campus group that was recognized in February by UVM's Student Government Association. Its goal, Leahy explains, is to create a safe place for men to discuss various issues of importance to them, particularly sexism and domestic violence. Ultimately, the group hopes to get more men involved in the cause -- through mentoring programs for boys and young men and by recruiting more male volunteers to work at rape-crisis centers and battered-women's shelters.

For more information on the white-ribbon campaign or the group Men Advocating Change, visit their website: