Women and Crime
This January, Loras College offered “Women and Crime” as one of their January Term courses. The class gave students an experiential understanding of important issues related to female victims, offenders, prisoners, and criminal justice workers. “We focused a lot on the crimes that primarily women are victims of, such as rape and domestic violence and how the justice system and society responds to these crimes,” explained Morgan Washburn (’13)
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa).
The class was taught by Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Dedra Tentis.
“The course focused on how knowledge was constructed within an often male-defined social context and how that impacts women at all levels. Recognizing that research is influenced by the power relations within society, the course explored how men and women are treated differently within this social context,” Tentis explained.
During three weeks students had the opportunity to listen to several guest speakers from the Dubuque community who shared personal experiences and professional knowledge about institutions, structures, and cultural supports related to women and crime. The speakers included: Loras College Director for Learning and Teaching Bob Adams, Assistant Dubuque County Attorney Chris Corken, Lieutenants Simon and Baxter from the Dubuque Police Department, Riverview Center Violence Prevention Educator Matt Zanger, Deputy Coroner Emily Behnke, University of Dubuque Dean of Admissions Jesse James, Attorney Callie Schmitt, and others.
The testimonies of the guest speakers provided an eye opening experience for students. Chantel Martin (’13)
(Dubuque, Iowa) stated how much she appreciated the opportunity to learn from them. “I admire Mr. James’ strength and enthusiasm to try to make a difference for other women, so they won’t meet the same fate as his daughter did. He stated that three women are killed each day due to domestic abuse; yet, the media fails to bring these stories to light because they’re not interesting or money worthy. I believe that if society just listened, paid attention, or was aware of such acts maybe we as a whole could help these lost victims.”
This course was open to all Loras students regardless of major or class year. “It was not until this J-term that I was introduced to the study of Criminal Justice. I had learned about rape, violence, harassment, murders, and crime happening in this world, but never to a realistic or believable understanding as I did in this course,” said Dan Figura (’14)
(Saint Charles, Illinois).
In addition to the guest speakers, students also went on field trips and presented on specific topics related to women and crime, which provided a more complete understanding of needed system transformations, as well as successful treatment of all offenders, victims, survivors and witnesses.