MSUM participates in cell phone drive for RACC

Faculty and students work together in annual service drive by Soroptimists and Economic Society 

BY ALISON SMITH
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One in three women has experienced domestic violence from an intimate partner in her lifetime, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey done by the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, the Soroptimists International of Moorhead, a women’s service organization that stands for the “best for women,” is holding a service project geared toward giving women who are victims of domestic violence an added level of safety.

The Soroptimists are once again partnering with MSUM’s Economic Society in their annual cell phone drive where all the proceeds go to the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead.

The RACC is a non-profit organization that provides counseling and advocacy services to those affected by domestic and sexual violence. Last year the RACC helped almost 3,000 individuals using their services.

“We really believe that no one deserves to be victimized. Nobody deserves to experience domestic or sexual violence,” said Daria Odegaard, education coordinator for the RACC.

Odegaard explained that a lot of the dynamics involved in domestic violence revolve around control and power.

“The abusive individual very often will take the cell phone of the partner they’re abusing, or go through the cell phone,” she said. “Having a second phone that’s concealed or a secret allows for a client to have another way to keep themselves safe.”

The donated phones are reset to only call 911 but clients have the option to activate the phone for normal use at the their own expense. Staff advocates or counselors identify when and who to disburse the phones to. “When there’s a need, we absolutely fill that,” Odegaard said.

“The idea of just giving another level of safety to these women is very important,” said Carol Larson, adjunct economics professor at MSUM and vice president of the Moorhead chapter of Soroptimists International.

MSUM holds major part in community service

Bev Wesley, retired MSUM sociology professor and MSUM alum, recognizes the importance of service to the community and is the District I Director for the North Central Region of Soroptimists International.

Wesley didn’t decide to attend MSUM until she was a 26-year-old divorcee with four children. She explained that coming up in the ‘50s, getting married and realizing that it doesn’t always work out showed her she needed to find something else that does.

For this reason she recognizes the importance of addressing women’s issues. Wesley also served as the director of MSUM’s Women’s Studies program and held a part in bringing the Women’s Center to campus.

Larson recognizes this importance as well and joined Soroptimists to get involved with service projects. When Tonya Hansen, associate economics professor and co-advisor to the Economic Society, mentioned she wanted the society to have an annual service project, Larson told her about the yearly cell phone drive the Soroptimists holds.

Hansen thought the drive would be perfect and could also be done as a part of the University’s goal for 125,000 service hours for its 125th anniversary.

Cell phone collection comes to campus

Former collection points for the Soroptimists included the Moorhead Center Mall and the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead. With Larson’s idea to bring the drive to campus, the organization was able to collect a greater amount of phones.

“The Econ Society has actually collected the most phones for (the Soroptimists) in the last two years,” Larson said.

Last year the Soroptimists collected 48 phones for the RACC, with an estimated value of $1,440. This year the Economic Society hopes to double that.

“All people have to do is just remember to bring their (old) phones to campus,” said Kofi Boadu, junior economics major and vice president of the Economic Society. “Why not help people out, you know?”

“It’s a very easy thing to do for anybody,” Wesley said. “I hope they will all be encouraged to even check with their parents and their friends.”

“If you go home on spring break, and Mom and Dad have a bunch (of phones) in a drawer, grab theirs,” Larson said.

The Economic Society has collection boxes placed around campus where students are able to dispose of any used cell phones, batteries or chargers that will be donated to the RACC. The phones and accessories will be disbursed to RACC clients or, if not usable, will be recycled for money which will go to directly benefit their services.

Drop-off locations include MacLean, Ballard, CMU, Langseth, Center for Business and the Center for Arts. Boadu wanted to target locations on campus corresponding to different majors to make it easier for everyone to donate.

The Economic Society is also partnering with the Sustainability Office, which has a receptacle outside their office in Hagen for used cell phones and batteries. They plan to give all the phones collected during the cell phone drive period to the Economic Society.

Boadu said the drive is planned to run through March, but he doesn’t want to limit the amount of donations and may run the drive even longer.

Odegaard said people seem fairly aware of the cell phone donation. “I’ve seen people drop off bags of phones that they’ve collected from family and friends.”

She stressed the RACC’s 24-hour crisis hotline. “If you ever have questions or concerns, we’re always there to address those,” she said. The RACC offers both scheduled and walk-in appointments that are free of charge and confidential.

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