BY EMMA CARONE
“Join the fight! Wear white!”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and UMW is making efforts to raise awareness by hosting the White Ribbon Campaign on-campus this week.
The White Ribbon Campaign, which aims to end violence against women, will be spreading awareness on campus and are asking students to show their support by wearing a white ribbon.
The week-long event, which includes a concert on Ball Circle on Monday, a movie screening, and distribution of white ribbons to students, is sponsored by the UMW Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE).
SAVE, a student-run organization, was founded last spring by senior Hassan Abdelhalim and sophomore James Sennett as a means of offering both help and resources to students about sexual and domestic violence.
“Our main goal is to educate and provide information to students,” Sennett said.
Working with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence, SAVE focuses on offering stable services to students who are involved in, or are victims of unhealthy or violent relationships.
In addition to raising awareness on-campus, members of SAVE are raising money for the two organizations, which will both be seeing severe cuts in funding.
While the White Ribbon Campaign will bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence issues, SAVE is hoping to reach out to the men in the community, asking them to get involved.
“The whole purpose is to show that stopping violence is not only a female issue,” Sennett said. “We want to show that men are not just the problem. They are part of the solution.”
The White Ribbon Campaign was started in Canada in 1991 by a group of men who decided to take on the task of urging other men to speak out against violence and put an end to domestic abuse. As a sign of commitment, the men wore white ribbons, and within six weeks, 100,000 men were wearing them.
“Most people know somebody, or know somebody who knows somebody, who have experienced this in some way shape or form,” Megan Holbrook, a member of SAVE, said.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience 4.8 million partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.
In the United States in 2008, individuals age 12 or older experienced an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“It’s just comforting to know that these resources are available here at Mary Washington especially with all the sketchy activity on campus in the past few years,” junior Michelle Etcho said.