|Students skydive for awareness about violence against students|
University students from across North Dakota are coming together during the spring of 2008 in a unified effort to raise awareness about violence against students. Dru Sjodin (UND) was raped and murdered in November 2003. Her killer is currently on death row. Mindy Morgenstern (Valley City State University) was killed in September 2006; her killer received life without parole. During the summer of 2007, yet another student, Anita Knutson (Minot State University) was murdered in her apartment. This case remains unsolved, although DNA is available for testing.
Students in the UND School of Communication taking the Public Relations Practicum under the instruction of Shelle Michaels are leading the efforts with a campaign called "Dru's Dive." This campaign entails the courage of others to "free fall" or better known as sky dive, for awareness. Students across North Dakota will be taking a "Two-Mile High Stand" for violence against students as a part of Operation Freefall, the boldest, highest-altitude and most daring event in the state to showcase prevention and awareness.
The campaign "Kick Off" will be Saturday, April 26, at SkyDive Fargo from noon to 4 p.m. Special highlights of this kick off (weather permitting) will be Linda Walker (Dru's Sjodin's mother) taking the first freefall, as well as food and entertainment.
The students are currently recruiting others to come on board with them to go skydiving. The jump costs $600; this includes the cost of the dive with a tandem master; any additional money raised through jump sponsors will go to the three anti-violence organizations, Operation FreeFall, SOAR and North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services (NDCAWS).
The funds that are directed to NDCAWS will go toward the Women's Opportunity Scholarship Fund in the names of Dru Sjodin, Mindy Morgenstern and Anita Knutson. This fund's purpose is to provide higher education opportunities to low-income women who wish to enter, or are currently attending a North Dakota college, university, or trade school. The fund assists scholarship recipients in a number of ways. It helps them to break the bonds of poverty and enhance their lives and the lives of their families intellectually, culturally, and environmentally.
You don't need to be an experienced skydiver to participate. In fact, most people are first-timers. No advance training is required. You will make a "tandem" skydive attached to a United States Parachute Association licensed tandem master. Your participation fee includes everything needed for a tandem jump: instruction and/or training, tandem skydive, plus a souvenir video to give you a permanent memento of this exciting experience.
The following people have been designated as dive leaders in their campus communities.
Laura Palmer (UND), Janelle Sjodin and Betsy Budge Joyce (Minneapolis area), Christine Ozirny-Lillemon and Tyler Schmaltz (Minot), and Tiffany Christiansen and Tonia Christiansen (Valley City). If you are interested in joining the efforts please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or direct further questions to Laura Palmer at Laura.Palmer@und.edu