University of Richmond’s chapter of Sigma Chi brought sexual assault awareness to the campus’s attention this week by selling shirts with the message “No More ΣXcuses It Ends Now…” across the back.
All profits made from the shirt sales will be donated by the fraternity to the Safe Harbor shelter of Richmond, a shelter for sexual assault and domestic violence victims and survivors.
“I’m sure everyone’s [against] sexual assault, obviously, but no [fraternity] has had an initiative against that from what we can remember,” junior Lott Gwin, the chapter's president, said. “We wanted to get the ball rolling there and set an example for other people.”
The shirts sold for $25 each. General donations to Safe Harbor for those who wanted to give but opted out of buying a shirt were also accepted through a donation box while the fraternity was tabling in Tyler Haynes Commons last week.
“I’m just so appreciative, so grateful, that folks on campus are considering us, thinking of us and helping us raise funds,” Jen Miller, the director of outreach at Safe Harbor, said.
Safe Harbor provides all of its services free, including counseling, sheltering, training services and aid in securing protective orders in Henrico County courts.
“Everything we do is complimentary to help the community,” Miller said.
The fraternity teamed up with Safe Harbor through connections at the Reinhart Guest House, an off-site home for patients and families at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond. Safe Harbor is one of the Reinhart Guest House’s community counseling resources, available on its website.
“That has been our goal this semester, to find a consistent organization within the community that we can connect with and go to every now and then,” Gwin said. The fraternity was aiming for a volunteering opportunity more personal than cleaning up the James River, he said.
While selling shirts in the commons, the fraternity’s table held Safe Harbor business cards and pamphlets for those interested in learning more about the organization. Also on display was a poster that read, “ΣX TAKES A STAND,” which was signed by all the chapter members.
Sophomore Anna Lowenthal bought one of the shirts last week and said she was very impressed by the fraternity's initiative to continue the talk on sexual assault.
“I think it is sending a great message to the campus that a fraternity is putting their letters on a shirt that promotes zero tolerance of sexual assault,” Lowenthal said.
Because Safe Harbor runs off of donations, Miller said they were always open to groups who were willing to donate. Miller said that recent donations were especially appreciated, because Safe Harbor had opened Central Virginia’s first trafficking shelter in November in addition to its preexisting sexual assault and domestic violence shelter.
“All the proceeds that folks are able to donate to us help us with getting that first shelter up and running alongside the other shelter,” Miller said.
Miller has spoken at University of Richmond before, educating students on Safe Harbor and its free, confidential and convenient services.
“It is really important to let students know that, while sometimes all the resources they need are on campus, we are only five to six minutes away,” Miller said.
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