ODK helps raise awareness of domestic violence

Photo Courtesy of Brianna Schmid A variety of campus organizations also tabled and set up games at the ODK Carnival, which tool place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 22.
Photo Courtesy of Brianna Schmid
A variety of campus organizations also tabled and set up games at the ODK Carnival, which tool place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Owen Donohue | Staff Writer

On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Duquesne University chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) hosted a fundraiser festival to benefit the Women’s Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh and promote domestic violence awareness.

Attendees of the Fall Festival for Change enjoyed carnival games, live music, food and prize giveaways. Dozens of other Duquesne organizations collaborated with ODK to make the event possible, donating raffle baskets and sponsoring games. Information booths provided carnival goers with statistics on domestic violence.

According to their website, the Women’s Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh “is a safe harbor that provides specialized care and support for women who have experienced all types of intimate partner violence from physical to emotional through emergency shelter, legal advocacy, a 24-hour hotline, support groups and more.”

The center has been a leading regional program for victims of domestic abuse and their children since its establishment in 1974.

“I wanted to start … an inter-organizational dialogue,” said Cam Kehm, president of ODK’s Duquesne chapter. “This is something that each and every one of us, every day, can actively combat and actively fight, just by how we conduct ourselves. Our choices today and how we conduct ourselves around future generations—that is going to be the groundwork laid to stop domestic violence.”

Also known as the National Leadership Honor Society, ODK was established in 1914 and recognizes student achievements in scholarship, athletics, service, communications and arts.

According to the ODK website, the organization encourages “cross-sectional collaboration among campus leaders — students, faculty, staff and alumni — to serve their community, among other goals written in its mission statement.”

ODK has had a pres

ence on Duquesne’s campus since 1978. The honor society, which accepts junior and senior students, has often acted as an intermediary for different philanthropic events, sending its members or funds to aid other organizations’ initiatives.

Kehm has a personal connection to the cause behind Saturday’s event. In October 2017, his friend and University of Pittsburgh student, Alina Shekyhet, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

“She was just this ray of sunshine and unfortunately she lost her life to the senseless violence that is a harmful relationship,” Kehm said. “I knew that I wanted to do … something that kind of memorialized who Alina was, just fun, outgoing, loving, just accepting. That’s why we wanted to do something as fun as a carnival.”

In addition to the organizations who contributed to the event on Saturday, dozens of organizations and student initiatives have been created on-campus events over the years to educate the Duquesne community on issues of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The stigma behind the topics has diminished somewhat over decades of their gradual introduction into public discourse.

“What the community needs to do is be more aware and be more invested in what we do every day, especially when we’re in those high risk situations,” Kehm said.

The Saturda

y event helped spread awareness of not only domestic violence, but of ODK and its mission itself. Kehm said he hopes ODK will further develop its role as a member of the philanthropic community at Duquesne and continue to take an adamant, collaborative approach toward social change.

“People naturally want to make positive change happen. They want to live in a better world … but you have to introduce them to the issue as a partner,” Kehm said. “We have the opportunity, the resources and the talent to really make our corner of the world better and that ‘our’ is important.”

A Duquesne University Counseling and Wellbeing Center crisis counselor is available 24 hours a day by calling the University Police at 412.396.COPS (2677) and asking to speak to a counselor.