4/16/2014 3:17:49 PM

Siena College Rises

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

By Sarah Vistocco '13

This Valentine’s Day, members of the Siena College community chose to send a global message instead of flowers or a greeting card. Students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered on the academic quad in front of the Sarazen Student Union to participate in ONE BILLION RISING. The event was part of a global initiative intended to show support for the movement to end violence against women and girls.

News Channel 13 Anchor Elaine Houston kicked-off Siena College’s ONE BILLION RISING event by saying, “If you’re not treating women with respect, then you are doing something wrong … We are here today to say, ‘enough.’”

ONE BILLION RISING is a call to action based on the statistic that one in three women will be raped or assaulted in her lifetime. As an act of solidarity, communities around the world came together to express outrage, demand change and rise in defiance of the injustices and violence against women.

“It is imperative that we, as a community, as a Franciscan community, as a community that cares about the dignity and unique worth of each human being, stand up against violence against women and say it must end,” said Director of the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women Shannon O’Neill, Ph.D. “It is not just a women’s issue, it is a human issue and we all have a role to play in ending this global epidemic and elements of culture that allow it to continue.”

Sexual assault victim Rachel Bryk ’15 spoke at the event as a woman personally affected by the issue. “I am a survivor and that’s what makes me different,” she said. Bryk described her desire to attend and speak at the event as a way to stand up for the victims who cannot.

Activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, women and men from Loudonville, New York to New Delhi, India participated in ONE BILLION RISING. Along with speeches, Siena’s event featured performances from the Dance, Bhangra and Step teams and a community “flash mob” to the event’s theme song, “Break the Chain.” Videos from several events are featured on the ONE BILLION RISING website.

Stefanie Sueda ’13 danced with the Bhangra Team and strongly believed in the anti-violence movement the event represented. “It starts with the individual, with one person, and that's why I chose to get involved,” Sueda said. “If one billion people across the globe rose up today, it is clear that the world requires a change in how our women are treated.”

Whether one was personally affected or else felt strongly about the issue, the event created a safe arena for education in a positive, inviting setting. “It’s giving women and men a common venue to get together and celebrate healthy relationships,” said ONE BILLION RISING attendee Kalli Bonin ’13.

ONE BILLION RISING is V-Day’s newest campaign. V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. It raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.

Student organizer Amanda Morales ’13 represented the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women and the Peer Education and Empowerment Programs at Siena (PEEPS). She said “V-Day” places a feminist twist on Valentine’s Day as a way to “reclaim the female body.” Morales created a promotional video that featured a photo montage of Siena College community members holding statements describing why they would “rise” during the V-Day event.

In 2012, more than 5,800 V-Day benefit events produced by volunteer activists in the United States and around the world educated millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised more than $90 million and educated millions of people about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it.

Photo Credit: Anita Jackson '15

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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