DENVER (KDVR) — Three students with the University of Denver are giving gender violence victims at colleges across the country a chance to share their stories.
DU senior Shannon Saul along with junior Madeline Membrino and sophomore Grace Wankelman have had a busy quarter balancing school, work and the launch of the “Do Better Campaign.”
“It’s been wild,” said Wankelman.
They successfully launched the “We Can DU Better” Instagram page in January. The page gives gender violence survivors on DU’s campus a chance to anonymously share their stories.
“I don’t think any of us were surprised. We’ve worked on this issue before and we knew there were plenty of people out there with stories to share,” said Saul.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show in 2018, six rapes were reported on DU’s campus and five in student housing facilities.
“We know this isn’t just a problem at DU, but we felt like we were able to effectively meet with administration and get them to start the conversation about creating change. So we felt like if we could do it at our school, why would we stop there?” said Saul.
Together, they launched the national Instagram page. In just a few weeks, they have received anonymous stories from students at colleges in Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, to name a few. They say the submissions are coming in faster than they’re able to post.
“We’ve been applying for grants because a lot of our own money is going into this and we’re college students, we don’t really make a lot of money,” said Membrino.
They also created a website, offering resources for survivors and ways for people to get involved.
DU released a statement Sunday in response to the national campaign, saying “Sexual assault and gender violence have no place in our community or any community. We support our students and have pledged to do better and improve our culture for them and our entire DU community.”
The three creators of the campaign say they’ve had several productive conversations with DU’s chancellor and are working on making changes as early as next school year. Saul says those changes could potentially include the formation of a safe ride program that would transport students home from parties, sexual violence education and training for faculty and staff, and possibly a school ID scanner system at fraternity parties that would keep record of who is attending.