COLUMBIA, SC — University of South Carolina students gathered at Williams Brice Stadium in the Scholarship Lounge tonight for an event designed to raise awareness of relationship violence. As part of the event, Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless communications provider, announced donations to the University's Alternative Housing Program, which provides students at risk of relationship violence with temporary emergency housing.
Items donated by Verizon Wireless included $1,000, 10 wireless phones, and 10 voice mail boxes. The $1,000 donation will be used to furnish the Alternative House. The wireless phones, which are pre-programmed to dial the campus police department and 911, will be given to students residing in the Alternative House to help combat the threat of relationship violence. The voice mail boxes will enable these same students to receive important messages, pertaining to family and friends, jobs and permanent housing, during their stay at the Alternative House.
In addition to donating these items, Verizon Wireless presented posters it had produced to publicize the services offered by the University's Office for Sexual Health & Violence Prevention. The posters list the office's phone number and will be displayed in various campus locations.
"We realize relationship violence is a reality in homes, workplaces, and on college campuses," said Jerry Fountain, Verizon Wireless' regional president - Carolinas. "Because students at risk are vulnerable and in desperate need of assistance, Verizon Wireless recognizes the importance of the Alternative House and the Office for Sexual Health & Violence Prevention. We are proud to pledge our support to each through these donations."
"The donations made by Verizon Wireless will benefit all University of South Carolina students," said Tricia Phaup, director of the University's Office for Sexual Health & Violence Prevention. "The posters will inform all our students that help is available 24-hours-a-day. Meanwhile, residents of our Alternative House will not only have a more comfortable place to call home, but the wireless phones will provide them with a portable and tamper-proof lifeline at the touch of a button."
To date, Verizon Wireless has donated 120 wireless phones to 13 colleges and universities in the Carolinas. Colleges and universities that have received phones include: Appalachian State University; Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College; Duke University; High Point University; North Carolina State University in Raleigh; University of North Carolina-Asheville; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; University of North Carolina-Charlotte; University of North Carolina- Greensboro; University of South Carolina-Columbia; Wake Forest University; Warren Wilson College; and Western Carolina University.
Aside from the donations made by Verizon Wireless, other highlights of the event included an address by keynote speaker Donald McPherson entitled, "You Throw Like a Girl: The Language of Sport and Sexual Violence." A former National Football League player, Mr. McPherson is currently an ESPN college football analyst and serves as associate director for "Athletes Helping Athletes." This organization deals with gender violence prevention issues, among others.
In addition to Mr. McPherson's keynote address, the University announced it would continue to sponsor The Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is a national program that allows women who have experienced interpersonal violence to paint t-shirts depicting their healing process. The University has sponsored The Clothesline Project on campus since 1995. As in years past, it will work to collect t-shirts from residence halls, student organizations and local domestic violence shelters. The t-shirts will then be displayed on Greene Street in front of the Russell House Student Union, Wednesday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sponsors for tonight's event included: the University of South Carolina Athletic Department; Multicultural Students Affairs; the Office for Sexual Health & Violence Prevention; the Residence Hall Association; SHARE; the student government; and Women's Studies.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with 27.5 million wireless voice and data customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp -- now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 38,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.