Pi Chi week raises awareness about domestic violence and rape against women


By Song My Hoang

Lambda Pi Chi held Pi Chi week from April 14 to April 19 to raise awareness about domestic violence and rape.

The organization was founded on April 16, 1988, at Cornell University and is the first U.S. Latina-focused sorority.

Its founding sisters strove to establish an organization that would transcend their collegiate experience, represent their rich cultural experiences, emphasize academic excellence and reach out to the college and local communities.

President, Community Service Chair and Academic Advisor of Lambda Pi Chi Kathleen Portillo ’14 commented, “There is a common misconception that we only cater to Latinas or people of color.

“More people should give little organizations like mine a chance. We do have an ethnic component, but that’s because of the time period it was founded in,” she continued.

Lambda Pi Chi is Latina-focused, but not Latina-exclusive, as they have over 80 ethnicities and nationalities represented in their organization.

Pi Chi week is held once every year and is Lambda Pi Chi’s biggest event. This year, the organization focused on domestic violence and rape awareness because they wanted to inform the community about these issues before holding their annual Domestic Violence and Rape Awareness Banquet on April 26.

Portillo stated that the topics of domestic violence and rape are very personal to her chapter because members have experienced it directly or indirectly through their friends and family.

“Many people generally don’t know or are aware of how serious this issue can be. Many cases of domestic violence go unreported. People need to be educated and more supportive of victims of domestic violence and rape,” explained Portillo.

Pi Chi week aimed to combat the apathy that exists on our campus as well as in our generation. Portillo said that many Union students are not aware of existing issues if those issues do not personally affect them.

On Monday, April 14, Lambda Pi Chi held a discussion entitled, “The ‘Selfie’ Phenomenon.” Lambda Pi Chi and Women’s Union facilitated the discussion-based event.

The discussion aimed to analyze the different facets of the selfie culture and its impact on female self-perception. It explored the question of whether selfies are a manifestation of narcissism, self-expression and self-appreciation or objectification.

Portillo said she was inspired to create this event because she saw an article on the blog Feminspire about how feminist writers need to stop judging selfies.

The discussion tried to grapple with the question of why females feel the need to take photos of their faces.

Selfies could represent a manifestation of women’s self-love for their exterior attributes. It could be an act of rebellion against the traditional perceptions of beauty; women are trying to prove that they do not have to look like a model to be beautiful.

However, some may argue that taking a selfie is a cry for attention. It is a way to conform to the community and increase male gaze because women are putting themselves in the public so that men can judge them. Some may consider selfies to be a regression in female empowerment.

Portillo said, “Overall, this discussion was a prelude to the upcoming domestic violence and rape discussions. We wanted to include this discussion because people tend not to think about underlying issues behind events that occur in their daily life.”

On Tuesday, April 15, Lambda Pi Chi hosted The Clothesline Project, which is an initiative that addresses the issue of violence against women.

Students were invited to design t-shirts with anti-domestic violence slogans. These shirts are viewed by the community as a testimony to the problem of violence against women. The shirts were hung the outside area between Reamer Campus Center, F. W. Olin Center, and Lippman Hall.

On Wednesday, April 16, Lambda Pi Chi’s founding date, the organization promoted their sorority by investing in the “The Butterfly Effect.” Lambda Pi Chi wrote quick facts about their organization on little butterfly notes and posted them in Reamer Campus Center, Bailey Hall, Science and Engineering Center, Schaffer Library, and Wold Center.

Lambda Pi Chi held a domestic violence workshop training workshop hosted by In Our Own Voices of Albany on Thursday, April 17. In Our Own Voices is an autonomous organization dedicated to addressing the needs of the LGBT community.

On Friday, April 18, Lambda Pi Chi started a clothing drive for the Schenectady Young Women’s Christian Association to help women affected by domestic violence. They placed donation boxes located in Webster House, Davidson House, Fox House, West College, Richmond House, and College Park Hall.

Lambda Pi Chi participated in the community and service at Schenectady city mission on Saturday, April 19.

“We believe that Pi Chi week was successful because the people who attended the events were truly invested in the topic,” said Portillo. All attendees were passionate about increasing domestic violence and rape awareness, and were genuinely committed to the cause.

She admitted Lambda Pi Chi is a small organization, and it is difficult to draw in a large crowd. The organization exhausted different options for advertising to help promote a widespread awareness of domestic violence and rape.

Portillo emphasized that solidarity is important to ensure that domestic violence and rape awareness merits attention.

Lambda Pi Chi wanted to educate the community about the nature and impact of domestic violence and rape in order to combat this societal problem as well as to provide a support group for victims of domestic violence and rape.


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