The Alpha Mu Sigma sorority and Kappa Sigma fraternity hosted an anti-bullying event called “We Are Awesome” to raise awareness of bullying at UMW.
The event took place on Wednesday, November 7, in the Great Hall. The event was connected with anti-bullying month, which took place throughout October. The main objective of this event, according to Alpha Mu Sigma Vice President Kagan McSpadden, was to do something positive for the school and unite the campus. Because of the recent increase in bullying cases, an anti-bullying event seemed appropriate, according to McSpadden.
According to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Director Nicole Surething, cyber bullying can be the most damaging type of bullying and is common in both high schools and colleges. Surething explained that bullying can leave students feeling isolated and unsafe, and, sometimes, abandoned by friends.
McSpadden explained that during the event planning process, which began in September, the school experienced the vandalism of the Red Flag Campaign, further demonstrating the need for an anti-bullying event.
The Red Flag Campaign, which was meant to raise awareness of dating and domestic violence, was vandalized on Sunday, Oct. 21.
Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE) President Meagan Holbrook said, “It’s great that they were able to take an unfortunate situation like the Red Flag Campaign vandalism and raise awareness of acts of bullying on campus.”
According to McSpadden, part of the event planning process was to gain the support of other student organizations on campus. Some of these sponsors, including BellACapella, Performing Arts Club (PAC) and Alter Egos shared their talents by performing at the event.
The event also had refreshments, games and a raffle. “We Are Awesome” t-shirts were sold as well, with all proceeds going to the National Center for Bullying Prevention and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
Hanna Lehnen, a senior English and psychology major, attended the event after hearing about it through Facebook. Lehnen admits she has never been directly affected by bullying, but has learned about the detriment it can have on people in her psychology classes.
“I feel that bullying, particularly cyber bullying, is a major issue,” Lehnen said. “It is important to raise awareness in an attempt to help bullying victims.”
According to a study reported in Health Day News, 15 percent of college students reported being bullied, while nearly 22 percent reported being victims of cyber bullying. In addition, 38 percent of the students in the study said they knew someone who had been cyber bullied, and 9 percent confessed to cyber-bullying another person.
While the majority of cyber-bullying takes place via social networking sites, it also occurs through text messaging, email and instant messages.
Surething said that this was UMW’s first anti-bullying event, but hopes it will become an annual event. Both McSpadden and Surething mentioned that the Red Flag Campaign vandalism served as a major incentive for the event, and they hope that, by continuing the anti-bullying movement on campus, such incidents will be stopped.