Candlelight vigil honors domestic violence victims

Morgan Reddekopp

Winona State students read the various stories of abuse survivors during the RE Initiative domestic violence candlelight vigil on Monday, Oct. 16. LAUREN GENNERMAN features reporter [email protected]

Morghan Lemmenes, Features Editor

Lights danced through the night as RE Initiative lit up the gazebo for a Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil at Winona State University last Monday, Oct. 16.

RE Initiative is a club at Winona State that supports survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and works to create a culture of respect and responsibility. The club also provides a hotline with resources for people to call if they need help.

“I became interested in [RE Initiative] when I went with a friend to a GBV Bingo Night the club was having,” RE Initiative president Victoria Parke said. “I had a blast with all the people and become very passionate about the material and from there I got involved with the club.”

Parke, a social work major, was an active member in RE Initiative before becoming president.

“I was recommended to apply for the mentor/mentee program to segue into the RE Initiative program,” Parke said. “I was hired on as an educator originally and just worked my way up to being an advocate and president of the RE club.”

Sam Wogenson, a senior psychology major, became involved in the club due to personal experience.

“I got involved in RE Initiative because I have been affected by domestic violence and there are people in my life who have been affected by domestic violence. It was a chance to give back,” Wogenson said.

During RE Initiative meetings, members take an education and self-care approach. One week, they will cover topics on bystander intervention and GBV in LGBT communities. The next week, members will partake in self-care activities such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness coloring.

On Thursday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Student Activity Center, RE Initiative will host a pumpkin

carving and decorating fundraiser to raise funds for the club so they can plan a campus-wide educational event focused on GBV.

“The club often pairs with other social activist and advocacy groups to support their events or co-sponsor events,” Parke said. “The club is very student driven and is run so every semester. The members really make the club their own and

choose what we spend our time doing.”

The vigil allowed students to see a wide variety of what dating and domestic violence looks like. Information found at the vigil said domestic abuse is often not just physical abuse but eco-

nomic, mental, psychological and verbal as well, and that one out of three college students have or are in a dating or domestic violence relationship.

“It’s on us to support them, believe them and help them get any resources they may need,” Parke said.