The Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County and a team of art and design students combined efforts to generate this month’s “Beat the Punch” campaign, a violence preventative program soliciting the alliance of the community’s young men.

“The point is to create a dialogue on campus and in the community about domestic violence prevention,” said Lindsey Dunn of the Women’s Shelter Program and “Beat the Punch” project coordinator.

“Beat the Punch” as a slogan was the idea of the Cal Poly team. The team consisted of two photographers and three designers from last year’s ART 432 class, advertising design. They also came up with promotional materials for the campaign such as coasters and posters.

“We just kind of ran with it and made it into this whole other big thing,” Dunn said.

Ivan Yip, an art and design graduate, was one of the designers and said this was his first time leading a design team. He thinks the project gave the team more incentive to work on community projects in the future.

“I hope it’s really successful. I think it’s going to be because it reaches a male audience in a straightforward way and in a subtle way that doesn’t offend people,” Yip said.

When asked why they chose a promotional approach versus an emotional or statistical approach, Yip pointed out that those tactics have been done before.

“People just quickly glance over it. We’re wanting to stop the problem before it starts,” Yip said. “We want to take a positive light and just encourage the alternative activities.”

The coasters, which are being distributed at local bars and restaurants, have the campaign’s Web site printed on them to direct people to alternative activities and other preventative measures.

Besides pointing people to the Web site, Jason O’Hagan, the general manager of Downtown Brewing Co., said he thinks the coasters will start conversations. Employees at Downtown Brew, as well as McCarthy’s, Cornerview and Marti’s, will be wearing “Beat the Punch” t-shirts and passing out coasters.

“When people see that they’ll understand that (domestic) violence is out there,” O’Hagan said.

Domestic violence is indeed out there, with 20 percent of violent crime against women being from an intimate partner in 2001, according to the statistics page of the “Beat the Punch” Web site. Locally, Dunn said, there are over 100 women in the Women’s Shelter Program at any one time.

“(Domestic violence) crosses all – rich, poor, ethnic – groups. It reaches everyone,” Dunn said.

The campaign is putting resources out into the community, but if the number of calls to the shelter increases, Dunn said she will not know if that signifies a rise in violence or in awareness.

“My hope is to just get the message out there . how can I tell if I’ve prevented violence or not?…The only way to really tell is to weigh it out over the next 10 years.”

Dunn hopes to get fraternities and other campus organizations involved. She has stickers, posters, magnets and wristbands available for any groups that want to get involved.

The “Beat the Punch” Web site is www.violencefreecommunity.com.

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