DTC teaches nonviolence

The lessons of non-violence that formed the beliefs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Daisaku Ikeda visited the Denmark Technical College campus in a physical form Feb. 2.
The display is known as the SGI-USA National Victory Over Violence (VOV) exhibit. SGI-USA is Soka Gakkai International-USA, a culturally diverse Buddhist association with over 12 million members in 185 countries. SGI-USA runs the VOV initiative.
All DTC students were encouraged to view the exhibit and sign a pledge card stating that they would overcome violence in their lives or never resort to violence to solve problems.
More than 100 students and community members signed a pledge card.
"It's nationally known. It's had a lot of impact," said LaShaundre Williams, a DTC student and current Miss DTC.
Williams wants to make people more aware of domestic and other types of violence since she has experienced it and has had close friends affected by it, she said.
The VOV exhibit explained various forms of violence, like race and gender violence and intolerance.
"I had a best friend who had to get a restraining order. It's definitely not good for a man to put his hands on a woman like that," Williams said.
Getting the exhibit to DTC was a collaborative effort between the college and the town of Denmark and Williams. As Miss DTC, Williams has as her public service platform domestic violence awareness.
The town of Denmark became involved with VOV after Dr. Gerald Wright, Denmark mayor and a DTC professor, named Daisaku Ikeda an honorary citizen of Denmark last year.
Ikeda is the current president of SGI-USA and an internationally known educator, author and advocate of peace and peaceful resolutions.
Wright's announcement was in the June 14, 2010 edition of Seikyo Shimbun, a Japanese national newspaper.
During the Feb. 2 ceremony, DTC was presented a framed copy of the Japanese newspaper, which had a photo of Wright and Dr. Michael M. Townsend Sr., DTC president, on the front page.
"This was a great exhibit to have on campus," said Townsend. "At DTC, we are not just trying to improve our students academically, but also educate our students socially and improve the whole person. There are many forms of violence and it cuts across all social strata. I wanted all DTC students to see this to make them aware of the impact of violence," Townsend said.
Williams said she wants to see the cycle of domestic violence broken because adults who create domestic violence usually grew up in an environment where it occurred.
"Some people might say that's not my place, but someone has to speak up," Williams said.
Now as an adult, Williams has been a volunteer at a Columbia women's shelter.
"It's a place where women need help in general but is more focused on those who are physically and emotionally battered," she said.
The DTC Student Government Association is planning to get the VOV exhibit back again for community viewing next year.