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The Blue & Gray Press | September 24, 2017

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New club fights sexual assault

By Ashley Jacoby

October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” and a new club on campus has activities in the works.

Student Anti-Violence Educators, or SAVE, is a new organization on campus that wants to promote and educate the Mary Washington community about domestic violence.

SAVE is the result of two groups merging together that created a more powerful organization.
Seniors Shelley Hillbery, Gwen Paulson, and alumnus Mike Dooley all worked at the Rappohannock Council Against Sexual Assault.

“We wanted to start this club on campus, so we went to OSACS and were surprised to find out about a similar club at UMW.  Because our ‘potential club’ and this advocacy group on campus had the same message about promoting education and information on sexual violence, we decided to combine groups,” Dooley said.

SAVE was an organization that had already been started by sophomore James Sennet as a sexual assault adovacy group.  Sennett, who is the president as well, was inspired by an organization at The College of William & Mary.  He wanted to bring the same information to UMW, particulary because of the sexual assaults that have occurred on campus.

“In the past some groups have tried to launch a club like this, but have not been able to do it successfully,” Sennett said.

SAVE has succeeding so far this semester due to strong student interest and attendance at meetings.

“That is the main objective of this group, to promote healthy relationships and behaviors,” Paulson said.

During the week of October 19 through 23, SAVE will have the annual “Red Flag Campaign.”  This campaign addresses relationship violence and endorses prevention of violence that occurs in relationships, especially with college-age students.

During that week there will be a table at the Nest from 11 am to 3 pm with activities for students to participate in, like the Wishing Tree.

“‘The Wishing Tree’ will be up and students will be encouraged to place notes on trees that pledge to not commit violence and bring awareness to the ‘red flags’ that come up in relationships” Dooley said. “We want students to be aware of them and act against them.”

Bracelets reading “Say Something” will be given to students throughout the week.
“We want these items to be physical reminders to pass the torch on to others about promoting healthy relationships,” Sennett says.

To end the week, there will be a musical event with performances from different student groups on campus including One Note Stand, Symfonics, and a jazz ensemble and people who have experienced or been exposed to violence will give testimonials to further raise awareness of the issue.

“Anyone who has been affected is welcome to talk. This could happen to anyone and everyone,” Dooley said.

“People don’t want to acknowledge that sexual violence happens,” Hillbery said.“One in five college women will be sexually assaulted. It does happen.”

SAVE wants to help those who have experienced violence or knows someone who has experienced violence. They hope to move towards providing training for their members about how to help victims of sexual violence.  They hope to become a full advocacy group at Mary Washington.

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