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UMD Rallies for Domestic Violence Awareness

A year ago in Duluth, a woman was murdered by her husband. Friends and family reached out to the Duluth organization Men As Peacemakers and the community to try and make a difference. The momentum accelerated and UMD, the College of St. Scholastica, and the City of Duluth joined their effort. This collaboration has brought internationally known speaker Joe Ehrmann to Duluth.

Coach Joe Ehrmann speaks on Oct. 27 from 8-9:30 pm in the Romano Gym.
Download a poster of the event

One in five college-aged women will experience some form of dating violence. Domestic violence can take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse, all of which are detrimental to a person's safety and well-being.

Men As Peacemakers recruited Coach Joe Ehrmann to speak on the topic of domestic violence from 8-9:30 pm in the Romano Gym on Wed., Oct. 27. Other events are planned as well.

Ehrmann was named by Parade Magazine as the most important coach in America. He was also a lineman for the former NFL team the Baltimore Colts. He is now a High School Defensive Football Coach, the co-founder of Building Men and Women for Others and the president of Coach for America.

Collaborative Effort

Men As Peacemakers, UMD, College of St. Scholastica, and the City of Duluth have formed a committee to work together to bring Ehrmann to the area. UMD Head Basketball Coach Gary Holquist is on this committee, along with Frank Jewell, the director of the organization Men As Peacemakers.

"We noticed an escalation of domestic violence and violence against women in the City of Duluth," Holquist said. "We got a group together to see if we could change the mindset and also promote men having healthy relationships with women."

The committee wanted to be proactive about this issue and not reactive. "In our society, there are people who are looked on as leaders and role models." Holquist said. "We want to make sure these people understand how to build healthy relationships and create a healthy, fair and just society."

Message for All

Ehrmann's message focuses on having healthy relationships. "If you know of or are involved in a healthy relationship, it will eliminate aggression toward your partner," Holquist said. "The goal is to show what good people do in a good society."

Many people think that rape cannot happen to them because they may not know someone who has been raped. However, date rape accounts for 67 percent of reported sexual assaults in the country. It is also reported that over 70 percent of young women raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend, casual acquaintance or relative. And, six out of ten rapes occur in familiar places and not in dark alleys.

Though Ehrmann has made his fame as an NFL player, his message is not meant to be heard just by athletes. Holquist agrees. "I'm a coach, but I'm also an educator. In our lives we are all coaches at some point," Holquist said. "This is not just for student athletes. Ehrmann really teaches coaching as a lifestyle for people from all walks of life."

Not Just a Women's Issue

Ehrmann hopes this session will decrease violence against women. He wrote, “Violence against women is often thought of as a women’s issue; but it is a mistake to call men’s violence a women’s issue,” Ehrmann said. “Since men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of this violence, this men’s issue calls to question the cultural values that produce men who hurt women.”

Challenging Social Norms

One topic that Ehrmann touches on in his speeches is the issue of being a man. “At an early age, boys are fitted with emotional straightjackets tailored by a restricted code of behavior that falsely defines masculinity. In the context of ‘stop crying,’ ‘stop those emotions,’ and ‘don’t be a sissy,’ we define what it means to ‘be a man,' ” Ehrmann has this message, “Adherence to this ‘boy code’ leaves many men dissociated from their feelings and incapable of accessing, naming, sharing, or accepting many of their emotions.”

Through his lectures, Ehrmann hopes to redefine what masculine and feminine truly mean in today’s society. By doing this, he hopes men will be able to become more in touch with their emotions and not have what Ehrmann calls “empathy-deficit disorder.”

“Each man and every coach must start challenging the social norms that define manhood and hold other men and players accountable for their behavior toward women,” Ehrmann said.

Building Long-term Goals

Holquist and the domestic violence committee hope that by bring Ehrmann to Duluth there will be long-term effects. "We want to find leaders in the community to reach out and make long-term solutions to this issue," Holquist said. "A quick fix solution isn't going to work. We need follow through."

Holquist says that the ultimate goal of this collaborative effort is to be "a vehicle for change in the community." Men As Peacemakers wants to partner with UMD students, staff, and faculty to make a long term commitment to finding solutions. They will be creating a mentorship program with the community and Duluth students.

Running the Duluth Circuit

Coach Joe Ehrmann will be in Duluth for five days, holding workshops and giving keynote speeches. He will be at the College of St. Scholastica on Tues., Oct. 26.

He will come to UMD on Wed., Oct. 27 where he will hold workshops on building healthy relationships and tips for mentoring students for the student leaders, staff and faculty. His keynote speech at UMD will take place from 8-9:30 pm in the Romano Gym.

Finally, he will present a speech to key stakeholders in the Duluth community on Thurs., Oct. 28 on creating long-term solutions to this issue.

This circuit is meant to help the City of Duluth, UMD, and CSS "get together to collaborate and do something to help the community and make Duluth a better place to live," Holquist said.

For Information contact Frank Jewell, at Men As Peacemakers,, or Gary Holquist, 726-6185,

All Statistics are from the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Written by Mandee Kuglin

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