Carnival benefits domestic abuse victims

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Psychology junior Victoria Gonzales enters the dunk booth as government sophomore Samuel Velasquez prepares to dunk her at Sigma Phi Omega’s annual SAFE Street Carnival at Gregory Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Mikaela Locklear | Daily Texan Staff

The Sigma Phi Omega sorority raised funds for Austin’s SafePlace women’s shelter Tuesday at the S.A.F.E. Street Carnival, while providing food, games and engaging ways to learn about domestic abuse.

The S.A.F.E. Street Carnival, which stands for Stop Abusive Family Environments, was organized by the Sigma Phi Omega sorority as an effort to raise money for and awareness of victims of domestic violence. Heidi Tso, a social work junior and a Sigma Phi Omega service chair, said the carnival fits into the group’s national philanthropic focus.

“Sigma Phi Omega’s national philanthropy is domestic violence awareness,” Tso said. “S.A.F.E. Street is an annual event, and it is a shortened version of our S.A.F.E. Week event every fall.”

All of the carnival’s proceeds go directly to SafePlace, a local shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, according to Tso.

The carnival featured games, food and even a dunk tank. An Nguyen, a supply chain management junior and Sigma Phi Omega service chair, said although the games are fun, their purpose is to spread awareness of domestic abuse.

“Every game, if they win it or even if they lose, they have to answer a domestic violence question just to promote awareness, because a lot of people get it wrong actually,” Nguyen said. “In order for you to win something from that food vendor, you have to answer the question correctly.”

Tommy Cao, an economics senior volunteering at one of the booths, described the kinds of questions asked of carnival-goers.

“One of the hard questions was numeric, where it asks how many people are affected by domestic violence, and one out of three women are usually affected by domestic violence,” Cao said. “Another question was does it only affect women? It affects males and females and kids and adults.” 

Andrew Ho, an undergraduate studies sophomore who attended the carnival, said he believes the carnival effectively taught students about domestic violence.

“They have a really good way to teach us about domestic abuse,” Ho said. “It’s a fun way to get information about domestic violence.”

Although she doesn’t know how much money to expect from the carnival, Nguyen said previous carnivals have collected between $600 and $1000, and this year the crowd was much larger than in previous years.