By MEGAN ORTIZ
The White Ribbon Campaign’s ultimate goal is to completely eradicate male violence against women.
Contrary to what their critics say, wearing a white ribbon and belonging to the cause is not simply a way to do away with the guilt of their gender, it is a personal pledge by male members to never condone commit, or remain silent about brutality towards the opposite sex.
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) was first formed in Canada in the early nineties. It was created in response to the December 6, 1989 Montreal Massacre, an event in which a Canadian antifeminist, Mark Lepine (CQ), armed with a semi-automatic rifle, entered the L’ecole Polytechnique(CQ) in Montreal and murdered 14 women.
Psychology professor Chris Kilmartin popularized the campaign in the United States. After attending a conference in the mid ‘90s, his interest inspired a desire to bring the cause to the UMW community.
After doing so, he became the unofficial national coordinator and a major player in the national campaign, assuming responsibilities such as receiving emails and sending out information to any who inquired.
The WRC at UMW, while focused on educating men on violence against women, encourages both sexes to join their cause.
Hassan Abdelhalim, chair of the campus campaign, is very concerned that students take responsibility to making campus safe.
“Violence of any form had no place on this campus and it is inspiring to see the amount of students interested in making the UMW community a safe place for everyone,” Abdelhalim said.
Their two main goals are to raise money for similar organizations, and encourage men to make their pledge to ensure the long awaited end to violence against women.
As an independent movement of students, it is up to the members to demonstrate the importance of their cause, and encourage other students to join. The WRC has accepted the help of faculty and students at UMW, as well as community outreach.
Also, organizations on campus, such as Psi Upsilon and Psi Chi have offered to support the campaign that will begin the first week of April. These organizations and students will help with funding and guidance for the WRC.
Members of the WRC are clearly dedicated to making an impact on the male community. They are noticeably proud of their members, as the responsibility is not an easy one to bear.
“It is a direct expression of the caliber and character of students at this campus who not only personally take steps to set a good example of a community, but strive and demand social action and a community of students who demand a safe environment for everyone on campus.” Abdelhalim said.
The campaign has proven problematic in the past, as some men label the WRC as sexist, Abdelhalim said, and feel blamed for the abuse. However, its success is evident in its popularity. The campaign is now present in 57 countries worldwide, and was so popular in Canada, that one out of 9 men were wearing the white ribbon, including the Prime minister himself.