​Alpha Chi Omega holds letter-writing campaign

ISC sorority plans to send letters against funding cuts for domestic violence victims to Rep. Tom Garrett


The University's Alpha Chi Omega sorority house.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Alpha Chi Omega will be sending over 500 letters to 5th Congressional District Rep. Tom Garrett (R) Tuesday in an effort to dissuade him from voting for funding cuts against support for domestic violence victims.

The national sorority’s philanthropy is domestic violence awareness. Typically, chapters send either money or volunteers to their university's local domestic violence shelter to help the cause.

Third-year College student Emma Katovitz, the vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega, said at least 20 members of the University’s chapter of Alpha Chi Omega volunteer at the Shelter for Help in Emergency, the local Charlottesville domestic violence shelter.

According to Katovitz, Garrett’s position in regards to the Violence Against Women Act is unclear.

“I’m just hoping that if the Violence Against Women Act — if it does come up to a vote — I really hope that Rep. Garrett does not cut the funding,” Katovitz said.

Garrett’s office did not return a request for comment for this article.

Cannon Lane, a third-year College student and member of Alpha Chi Omega, said the Violence Against Women Act provides funding across a spectrum of causes.

A 2015 Congressional Research Service report notes that between the creation of the Office on Violence Against Women in 1995 — a year after the act was signed into law — and fiscal year 2014, over $6 billion in federal grants were awarded through the office.

“The VAWA Act provides grants to 25 different organizations that range from police training on how to deal with domestic violence situations to a national hotline for domestic violence,” Lane said.

At least 500 people from the University community signed copies of the original letter, which was based on a template created by Alpha Chi Omega member and third-year College student Taylor Trumble.

“It’s just addressing that, ‘I’m in the constituency, I’m a college student, and this is something that is really important to me and I really hope you choose not to cut the funding,’” Katovitz said. “So, I printed out 500 copies of that letter and everyone came and signed that.”

Lane said the sorority ran out of copies of the letter.

“I’m a [Women, Gender and Sexuality] minor and we brought a stack directly from the Lawn into our class and everyone was supportive,” she said. “Our professor signed a letter.”

Lane also said the letter campaign was open to everyone since it was apolitical. Fourth-year Commerce student, Samantha Glazer, agreed that it was a very open opportunity.

“We saw this as an opportunity to really make a stance and have a voice regardless of what anyone’s partisan opinions are,” Glazer said.

At this point, Alpha Chi Omega is uncertain whether they will receive a response. Glazer said even if Garrett does not reply, receiving hundreds of letters should still have an impact.

“I don’t think he’s going to be corresponding with us but I do expect some kind of action,” Lane agreed. “I hope that in a democracy there would be some kind of action.”

Rory Finnegan, president of the Inter-Sorority Council at the University, said Alpha Chi Omega spearheaded the event and commended the sorority for the campaign.

“I can see this inspiring women across the ISC community to be more politically active in the future because of the great example Alpha Chi Omega has set,” Finnegan said.

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