Florida State University President John Thrasher and FSU College of Social Work Dean Jim Clark joined the family and friends of FSU student Maura Binkley as the family launched a new foundation, Maura’s Voice, Monday, March 4.
Maura was killed during a shooting at a Tallahassee yoga studio in November, along with FSU faculty member Dr. Nancy Van Vessem. The event was held on what would have been Maura’s 22nd birthday.
“Our goal is to foster positive change so we can address the entirely unacceptable epidemic levels of violence in our society,” said Jeff Binkley, Maura’s father and founder of Maura’s Voice.
Binkley addressed a large crowd of supporters during a press conference on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. Since her untimely death, he has worked relentlessly to keep his daughter’s legacy alive, a mission now possible with the help of the new partnership with Florida State University.
The organization will focus on research concerning violence, mental health, gun safety and overall hate in society.
Thrasher also addressed those gathered.
“As a major research university, FSU can do its part by examining the root causes of violence, especially violence against women, so that we can better find solutions and create a safer environment for everyone,” Thrasher said.
Clark will lead a multidisciplinary team of researchers to examine the complexities of hate and violence and provide policymakers and thought leaders with fact-based information on the underlying issues of systemic violence.
“Researchers in the FSU College of Social Work in partnership with our colleagues throughout the university will go beyond thoughts and prayers and provide evidence informed approaches to addressing the social problem of violence,” Clark said.
Clark said we often equate violence with mental illness, but that is not always the case.
“That way of understanding is an old paradigm that we often see used in public policy discussions,” Clark said. “We must step back and look at violence as a complex phenomenon and begin to ask new, unanswered and often unfunded questions in order to find innovative solutions to address the issue of violence in our culture. Thanks to Maura’s Voice, we will aim to discover what lies at the intersection of hate and violence.”
Other speakers included Florida Sen. Bill Montford and Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. Attendees included Senate President Bill Galvano, Tallahassee Chief of Police Michael DeLeo and dozens of Maura’s friends and classmates who held signs reading “A Voice for Safety, A Voice for Peace, A Voice for Justice.”
“The motive for the terrible crime in this city on Nov. 2 was hate,” Binkley said. “Our motive in establishing Maura’s Voice is love. I can hear Maura’s voice … I trust that you can too.”