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Web posted Thursday, April 13, 2000

photo: local

  Pittsburg State University students and others gather to remember Stephanie Schmidt at a candlelight vigil at the University Lake Wednesday evening. Schmidt, a PSU student, was raped and murdered in 1993 by a convicted sexual offender. Her parents, Gene and Peggy Schmidt, later initiated the Speak Out for Stephanie Foundation and serve as strong advocates for crime victims.
Laurie Sisk/The Morning Sun

A stark reminder, a stirring tribute
PSU community observes National Victims Rights Awareness Week

Morning Sun Staff Writer

Nancy Hulse would like to be out of job. The problem is, her job is enlightening us all about the scourge of rape and, even in the year 2000, her services are still much needed.

This week is National Victims Rights Awareness Week and Hulse, along with Gene and Peggy Schmidt, appeared Wednesday night at Pittsburg State University's John Lance Arena before a crowd of PSU students and others.

Following Hulse's presentation, "A Rose by Any Other Name," and a brief statement from the Schmidts, attendees participated in a candlelight vigil stretching from the Weede to the PSU University Lake.

A number of other activities are scheduled throughout this week to commemorate National Victims Rights Awareness Week, sponsored locally by the PSU Speak Out for Stephanie Chapter.

Hulse's "A Rose by Any Other Name," is a multimedia performance dramatizing the forms of rape in our culture. It's graphic, driving home the evils of the crime like a jackhammer. The presentation features dance performances by Hulse, the music of artists such as "Marilyn Manson," "Garbage" and "Hole," scenes from films such as "The Accused" and "Animal House," and telling statistics on such crimes as incest and date, acquaintance and stranger rape, "A Rose by Any Other Name" tells the story of our "rape culture."

Hulse has been performing anti-rape presentations across the nation since 1994, mostly on university campuses. She said her primary goal is to tell the truth about rape. She added that she believes women need to unite against the crime and men need to take responsibility and act against it.

"It's not the women's fault, no matter what she does and what she wears," she said. "This is the year 2000. I would like to be out of a job. I would like not to have to do this."

Hulse noted that she meets with a lot of resistance in her work to educate the public about rape. And, she added, women who have performed with her in the past have even been beaten for their participation.

Yet, she added, "I'll keep doing it until they have to push me out in a wheelchair."

Following Hulse's performance, Peggy Schmidt told attendees that returning to PSU is always bittersweet for her and her husband. The Schmidts met on the PSU campus and later married, but the setting also stirs memories of the tragic loss of their daughter.

In 1993, PSU student Stephanie Schmidt was raped and murdered two days before her 20th birthday by a local convicted sexual offender.

The Schmidts initiated the Speak Out for Stephanie Foundation and, along with serving as strong advocates for victims, have established several chapters of Speak Out for Stephanie on college campuses across Kansas.

"We want you to know that, through you all, you re-energize us," Peggy Schmidt told attendees.

Gene Schmidt added that, as a man, he has a lot of resentment for those men who rape women.

"We are here to remember those who have been victims of crime that go unreported," he said. "We encourage victims of rape to report them."

Peggy Schmidt added that she believes the entire community should become involved in the work of victim's advocacy because "At one time or another, everyone is affected by crime."

Victims Rights Awareness Week at PSU has included a number of activities this week, including the Clothesline Project, with T-shirts decorated by women who have sought shelter at the Pittsburg Safehouse. Safehouse has provided information for distribution at SOS activities throughout the week.

Today, Jim Otter, chair of the Department of Engineering Technology at PSU, will present a self-defense workshop at Lance Arena. Otter is an instructor at Pittsburg's Karate Academy.

ID Passports will be available at Ron's IGA from 4 to 6 p.m. today.

On Friday, a Tree Dedication Ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. at the University Lake.

The Sigma Chi fraternity at Pitt State has also donated funds to make the Victims Rights Awareness Week possible. During Wednesday's presentation, members of the PSU Sigma Chi chapter presented Gene and Peggy Schmidt with a check for $1,500 to benefit the Stephanie Schmidt Foundation.

Anyone with questions about the week's activities may call 235-4245.

And, for more information on the Stephanie Schmidt Foundation, call 800-428-2725 or write to Speak Out for Stephanie, P.O. Box 7829, Overland Park, KS 66207.

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