Women’s Studies Masquerade Ball to raise funds for domestic violence

Caroline Kimbro, Reporter

The Women’s Studies program is raising funds for SAFE, a domestic violence shelter for women and children in southern West Virginia, during its annual Masquerade Ball, set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

The Masquerade Ball will feature a live jazz band composed of Marshall students, dancing, silent auctions items available throughout the night, food and an open wine bar for those over 21.

Laura Michele Diener, director of Women’s Studies, said the Women’s Studies program has been involved with SAFE for the last five years. SAFE, located in McDowell County, serves primarily rural areas known for the lowest life expectancy rates in the country. McDowell County leads the state in number of teen pregnancies and citizens dependent on disability supplemental income. Diener said these areas present heightened challenges to women in abusive domestic situations, such as lack of autonomy, poor cell phone service and difficult roads.

“Our program mission is both academic and activist, and we are always looking for ways to help people in West Virginia,” Diener said. “Our hope is that the women and children at SAFE are our future students, family and co-workers at Marshall. By helping them, we contribute to the future of the state and the university.”

The event will also benefit Marshall’s feminine hygiene drive, which supplies free feminine hygiene products for students and staff in nine restrooms across Marshall’s campus. When Diener heard that a food pantry had opened on campus for students, she realized many students may also lack extra funds for feminine hygiene products, which are often expensive. The drive is intended to assist students but also build a strong community at Marshall.

“This project also raises awareness about the many people in West Virginia who don’t have access to hygiene supplies – homeless people, for example – and encourages students to think of creative ways to support those people,” Diener said.

Sarah Reynolds, a graduate assistant with the Women’s Studies program, said the program is accepting donations of feminine hygiene products in lieu of an entrance fee for students. These donations will be used to support the feminine hygiene drive at Marshall.

“Overall, the Masquerade is a fun night for students, staff and community members,” Reynolds said. “It gives people a chance to get dressed up, drink wine, dance and raise money for a great cause.”

Tickets cost $10 for students, $20 for adults and must be purchased in advance of the event. Those wishing to donate feminine products in lieu of purchasing a ticket must also do so before the event. The Masquerade Ball is open to the community. Those interested in purchasing tickets can email [email protected] or [email protected]

Caroline Kimbro can be contacted at [email protected]