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Changing policy

Story by Elizabeth Robinson, relays editor

Under the current Iowa code, a person must be or have been married, have a child together or have lived with a partner within the last year in order to file a domestic abuse assault charge against his or her abuser. On Thursday, Feb. 7, the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence is hosting Student Day at the Capitol building in an effort to change this section of the Iowa criminal code to protect against dating violence.

High school and college students have the opportunity to advocate for H.F. 286, a bill to include dating violence and other intimate relationship abuse, in the Iowa criminal code. This bill, originally introduced to the Iowa legislature in 2011, would classify dating violence as a form of domestic abuse, thus making more penalties applicable to the crime.

Repercussions of domestic abuse include no contact orders, which are automatically issued and prohibit the abuser from any contact with the victim during the case. Other consequences include a “batterer’s education program” and a mandatory jail sentence. Currently, none of these ramifications are in place for intimate relationship abuse such as dating violence.

“This is really pertinent to high school and college aged students because most of you are in that circumstance where you’re not married and you’re not living together or you don’t have children with a partner, so it’s important that your voice is heard,” said Alsya Mozak, coordinator for sexual violence response at Drake University an organizer of the event.

Beginning at 12 p.m., students and advocates in attendance will be briefed on the dating violence bill and will learn more about policy advocacy and the best way to lobby to a legislator. At 2 p.m., the group, led by Mozak and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV), will proceed to the Capitol to speak with legislators about the significance of H.F. 286 and encourage them to support the passing of the bill.

“I just thought it would be a really good way to kind of get that student activist community awareness building on our campus,” Mozak said. “To me it really fits into that whole global citizenship mission that Drake has.”

Last year, two students attended the first ICADV Student Day at the Capitol. This year, Mozak is working in conjunction with Drake Law Women and Students Advocating for Gender Equality to create more of a Drake student presence.

“When you have a Drake address, you don’t have to be registered to vote here, you live on our campus and you live in our state, you have the rights to that information and those laws and resources,” Mozak said. “That’s the point of going, to feel like your voice is being heard, to a part of the political process.”

Student Day at the Capitol begins at noon on Thursday, Feb. 7 and all students are invited to attend. More information on the event and on the dangers and prevalence of dating violence can be found tomorrow in the Olmsted breezeway.

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