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President's Corner: April 2017

They wobbled around Kaufman Mall wearing electric red, alabaster white and glossy black pumps, boots and wedges.

The event was Old Dominion University's ninth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, held last month to raise awareness about sexual assault. About 400 students, faculty and staff members participated - our largest turnout ever - and some of the men dared to make the journey in women's shoes.

The sight of our toughest male athletes and police officers tottering across the campus drew smiles and knowing laughs from some of the women who tried to help them maintain their balance. But the message was strictly serious: Sexual violence is unacceptable.

That day I shared a striking statistic: Twenty people are physically abused by a partner every minute in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That equates to more than 10 million male and female victims every year.

Together, we must work to reduce that number. The Walk a Mile event was a powerful consciousness-raiser. But we are determined to do more.

That's why we are expanding our Green Dot training to students and employees on how to respond as bystanders to relationship violence. We all have a part to play in maintaining the safety of our community.

Old Dominion already has 24 staff members who are certified Green Dot instructors. As of mid-March, they had already trained 309 students this year.

We plan to expand the number of Green Dot instructors over the next year. We will also reach out to athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, and off-campus students - as well as employees - to further spread the message, and we'll bring Dr. Dorothy Edwards, the founder and director of Green Dot, to campus in the fall.

Education goes beyond the classroom. We can - and must - help reduce this threat to our society and the well-being of its citizens.

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