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SRVSS celebrates 10 year anniversary of personal violence awareness

Audrey Trevarthan
Tables sit decorated for SRVSS’ 10th anniversary in the Student Center balcony ballroom.

The Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services marked its 10-year anniversary by taking attendees through its past, present and future in the Kent State Student Center Friday evening. 

The evening began with small talk and appetizers as guests looked at displays set up by the organization. Eboni Pringle, interim senior vice president for the Division of Student Life, kicked off the anniversary with a welcome speech. 

SRVSS sets up a display of history at the 10th anniversary Friday. (Audrey Trevarthan)

“Tonight’s a celebration of all of you and all of the students, faculty and staff who have been served by this organization, who are now all warriors in this fight,” Pringle said. “Let’s celebrate those who couldn’t be here and continue to dream of a world without violence.”

After words of gratitude and acknowledgment to other members of SRVSS, Pringle introduced the director of public safety and chief of police, Dean Tondiglia, to take the audience through the history of SRVSS.

Governor Ted Strickland formed the Ohio campus safety taskforce, which specifically looked at intimate-partner violence, sexual assault and stalking on campuses across Ohio, Tondiglia said. The taskforce knew they needed to address these issues due to multiple studies, one showing that one out of every four college women were a victim of sexual assault, and one out of every 33 men were a victim of either an attempted or completed sexual assault in a lifetime.

Tondiglia went through the process of how SRVSS got its start, focusing on the work SART, Kent State’s sexual assault response team, put into starting the organization. 

“We are really very fortunate to have an organization like SRVSS on our campus,” Tondiglia said. “They’ve made a positive difference at Kent State University, and they’ve made a positive difference in people’s lives on and off our campus throughout our communities, which really is remarkable.”

In between speakers, Todd Kamenash, assistant dean of Student Life, took a minute to lead the group in singing happy birthday to SRVSS. 

“SRVSS is not a human being,” Kamenash said. “It’s a series of compassionate people. It’s you. It’s me.”

After the cake was cut, SRVSS Director Jennie O’Connell walked the crowd through the organization’s present and future. 

O’Connell said she knew she wanted to work with college students who were impacted by sexual and relationship violence since 1998. She described SRVSS as a place where people can not only come to be validated, believed and supported, but a place for the community to learn the signs to recognize potential power based personal violence and how to intervene.

“Over the years we’ve supported hundreds of students and educated thousands,” O’Connell said. “We have been there as they tell their stories, seek justice and search to find balance in their lives after someone took that from them. We have been there for the tears when things are not going their way.”

O’Connell introduced SVRSS staff, including Assistant Director Yvette Roberts and Program Coordinator Julius Payne. She then shared the strategic plan SRVSS has developed for the next three years. 

The organization plans to continue raising awareness, educating others and providing ongoing support to those affected by power-based personal violence, O’Connell said. They also aim to leverage the community in order to share their resources and reach more people who have been affected. 

O’Connell said her last two goals were to transform advocacy support and expand prevention education. 

“I look forward to seeing you all in another 10 years and sharing how we have transformed our community,” O’Connell said. 

Audrey Trevarthan is digital assistant. Contact her at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Audrey Trevarthan, Campus Editor
Audrey is a junior journalism student with a passion for opinion writing and digital content. Contact her at [email protected]

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