For the fourth year at UMW, red flags can be found lining Campus Walk for one week in October.
The flags are a part of the weeklong Red Flag campaign brought to campus by Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE), a club formed in 2009 to help raise awareness of dating violence on campus.
Senior Shelley Hillberry, SAVE president, said that the campaign helps bring attention to intimate partner violence, including emotional abuse, coercion, excessive jealousy, isolation, sexual assault, victim blaming and stalking.
Posters displayed throughout campus portray each of these types of dating violence, according to Hillberry. They encourage friends and other witnesses to “say something” if they notice signs of an unhealthy relationship.
However, some students think the posters can be overwhelming when passing by.
“I wish they would make more handmade posters that are less wordy,” senior Amanda Gold said.
Sophomore Andrew Hogan said that while some of the posters seem humorous at times, they make him think about the issue.
“The message definitely gets across,” Hogan said.
According to the 2010 Annual Security Report, there were seven total cases of forcible sex offenses on campus reported to the UMW Police in 2009.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reported that while one out of every six American women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, college-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
Hillberry said this does not have to be the case.
“We’re so susceptible to that violence,” Hillberry said. “The statistics are there.”
This year, SAVE is focusing on peer counseling and prevention education, with the Red Flag Campaign raising awareness not only for the prevalence of dating violence but also the club on campus, according to senior Shannon Harris.
Harris has been involved with SAVE since it began and now serves as food coordinator.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Harris said. “In the past, we had no resources for them. It’s a big awareness thing.”
Today, Oct. 28, SAVE will sponsor a Pledge Tree in front of Lee Hall, where students can pledge to “say something” if they see a sign of an abusive relationship, according to the flier.
To conclude the campaign on campus, SAVE will be working with the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence tomorrow to display a clothesline in front of Lee Hall. The event flier describes the event as a testimony to the problem of violence against women.
The campaign began on Monday with the “Handprint Project,” where men across campus from athletic teams and clubs, as well as President Rick Hurley and Chief of Staff Martin Wilder, pledged neither to commit nor condone violence against women by leaving their handprints on a display board, according to Hillberry.
The banners with the handprints were later displayed in front of Lee Hall.
“I really loved the handprint posters,” junior Mandi Solomon said. “It’s a good impact, showing everybody has a hand in this situation.”
On Wednesday, the club cohosted a film screening of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, followed by a panel discussion.
According to a university news release, the organizations hoped the discussion would give the audience a better idea of how to handle sexual assault as a victim and as a supporter of a victim.
“Although it is a very graphic film, it shows how devastating sexual assault can be for the victim, and also raises thoughts of how to react if you or someone you know is ever in such a situation,” Michelle Bond, graduate assistant of wellness, said.
While the campaign ends on Friday, SAVE members are always available as a resource for students dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault, according to Hillberry. She said this support is new for UMW students.
“We are a small club, but we’re trying to do big things,” Hillberry said.