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November 1, 2010

UMBC Launches Campaign Against Dating Violence; Receives $25,000 Verizon Foundation Grant to Educate, Train Students, Faculty & Staff on Violence Prevention

Eleanor Lewis

Sherri Cunnigham

College students are at a high risk of either acting as perpetrator or being a victim of dating violence – both physical and sexual. In response, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has joined a public awareness effort to stop dating violence on college campuses.

The Red Flag Campaign helps students and others in the campus community identify the “red flags” of dating violence in their friends’ relationships and intervene. In addition, UMBC has received a $25,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to launch a Violence Prevention Advocates program to educate and train students, faculty and staff on specific violence prevention efforts.

The campaign kickoff event will be held at UMBC Wednesday, November 3, 12:10-12:35 p.m. in The Commons Sports Zone (mezzanine level). Speakers will include UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, Vice President for Student Affairs Nancy Young, SGA President Yasmin Karimian, Melanie Ortel of Verizon Wireless and Diane Miles of Verizon Maryland.

The Red Flag Campaign, a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, was created with support from the Verizon Foundation and Verizon Wireless. Red flags posted around the campus are designed with a “bystander intervention” strategy to raise awareness and encourage the campus community to “say something” when they see the warning signs - “red flags” - for emotional or physical violence in a friend or colleague’s relationship. Accompanying posters include on- and off-campus resource information.

UMBC’s Violence Prevention Advocates Program will include relationship violence prevention education and training for volunteer student, faculty and staff advocates; a poster and speaker series; and a relationship violence prevention resource website and online campaign on UMBC websites.

“Recent tragedies related to relationship violence and bullying on campuses across the nation call our attention to these issues and remind us that no campus is exempt,” says Young. “UMBC is fortunate to have received a grant from the Verizon Foundation to raise awareness, educate the campus community on issues related to relationship and dating violence and provide information to members of our community about resources and help.”

Karimian adds, “As unfortunate as it is that we have to face and discuss issues of domestic violence, it is absolutely necessary that we have real and honest campus conversations that face this issue. I feel the need to speak out, helping others recognize the red flags that exist in every community. Relationship violence does not discriminate. Anyone can be affected, so we need to be proactive in safeguarding ourselves and our community.”

Melanie Ortel, associate director of public relations for Verizon Wireless in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., says, “It’s important for young people to know that abuse does not have to be physical to be damaging. Emotional abuse needs to be taken just as seriously, and this campaign helps us all identify it. We’re proud to fund this award-winning, effective program, which is being embraced by colleges across the nation.”

The Red Flag Campaign is a result of the combined work of students, faculty and victim advocates from nearly 20 colleges and universities. For more information, visit

Since it was launched nationwide in 2001, Verizon Wireless’s HopeLine program has collected more than 7 million phones and awarded more than $7.9 million in cash grants. No-longer-used wireless phones – all models, from all wireless carriers – are collected and accessories are refurbished, recycled or sold. Proceeds benefit victims of domestic violence through grants and the donation of wireless phones and service. Phones are accepted at Verizon Wireless stores across the nation and on UMBC’s campus at The Commons. For additional program information, visit

Posted by elewis at November 1, 2010 2:01 PM