Shippensburg University participates in global initiative to end violence against women
By AMBER SOUTH
Holding up posters with the word “RISE,” more than 100 Shippensburg University students grooved to empowering pop songs Thursday as part of a global initiative to end violence against women.
The university was one of many groups around the world participating in One Billion Rising, an event that recognizes the 1 billion women who will be raped or abused during their lifetimes. It served as celebration of the 15th anniversary of V-Day, an activist movement founded by “The Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler.
The Women’s Center was the organization leading SU’s participation. Intern Stephanie Diaz was the mastermind. Her motivation was educating the campus about the national and international scope of violence against women.
“To combat (an issue) is to educate people. The best way to educate people is to make sure they have fun while learning,” she said.
Fun was a key aspect of One Billion Rising. The goal was to get a billion people around the world to rise up and dance to support the one billion victims of violence against women.
In creating the event, Ensler chose dancing as the best way to unite people for the day, said Women’s Center Director Stephanie Erdice. By participating in SU’s event, students could count themselves as one of the hopefully 1 billion supporters around the world, she added.
The purpose of One Billion Rising is not something that should be limited to just the event, but act as a continuation of advocacy, Erdice said.
“Today is a kick-off for some people and a rejuvenation for others,” she said.
Soon after “Baby One More Time,” by Britney Spears, got the first students dancing, many more quickly filed into the Anthony F. Ceddia Union Building’s amphitheater and got moving to tunes including the “Bye, Bye, Bye,” by NSYNC; Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Psy’s “Gangham Style,” and many more uplifting choices.
Sophomore Laura O’Donnell, a public relations major, said she danced for her mom, who was a victim of violence. “This is a way for me to show support of her,” she said.
Ashley Miller, a senior majoring in social work, said she feels One Billion Rising is a great way to advocate for women’s rights.
Her friend, Anjelina Cruz, also a senior majoring in social work, participated in support of shedding more light on V-Day. She had been in an abusive relationship and wanted to take action.
“I really wanted to come and take back some of that power,” she said.
Dancing may have been the main event, but SU’s One Billion Rising also included information tables with groups including Women in Need and To Write Love on Her Arms, an SU organization that advocates against self-harm.
Guests had the opportunity to share their thoughts about violence against women, and to share their own secrets. Students were able to write empowering messages on Post-its, which were placed on a multicolored board for everyone to see. Messages included “We are all precious, stand up and show it,” and “You’re perfect, don’t let anyone tell you different.”
The event also included a PostSecret station. Here, guests could anonymously write a secret on a post card, which organizers will then send to be placed on the PostSecret website for everyone to see.
Because it was a celebration of V-Day’s 15-year milestone, Thursday was likely the first and only time One Billion Rising will take place, Erdice said.
“It’s really important because a lot of women in their lifetimes are raped or abused and a lot don’t talk about it,” said Kathleen Prest, president of SU’s social work organization. She and other volunteers from the organization were stationed at the CUB entrance to welcome people in.
As guests walked in, they received a homemade paper flower that acted as advertisement for SU’s productions of “The Vagina Monologues.” Performances are at 8 p.m. Feb. 21, 22 and 23 in Memorial Auditorium.
Tickets for the general public are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Advance tickets are available in the Women’s Center, Horton Hall 132.
One Billion Rising came in the same week in which the U.S. Senate reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act.
According to a statement from Sen. Bob Casey, the legislation has been very effective in protecting Pennsylvanian women from abuse and supporting victims of abuse and assault.
“I am particularly encouraged by the inclusion of my provisions to combat sexual violence on college campuses so that college campuses are safe and secure places to learn and work,” he said.
According to statement from President Barack Obama, “The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us.”
Vice President Joe Biden urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill quickly.
“Delay isn’t an option when three women are still killed by their husbands or boyfriends every day. Delay isn’t an option when countless women still live in fear of abuse, and when one in five have been victims of rape,” he said in a statement.
As of Thursday evening, the House had not passed the bill.