The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Dean starts sexual violence awareness T-shirt campaign

Administration at the University of Richmond are taking a stance against sexual and domestic violence through the "It Ends Now" campaign to be held on Sept. 16.

The campaign, which was adapted from a program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a T-shirt campaign to encourage students to start thinking about sexual and relationship violence and to commit to prevention. The idea for the program was pitched by Joseph Boehman, dean of Richmond College, toward the end of spring semester.

Boehman read an article about the t-shirt campaign promoting a rape-free zone which he shared with Patrick Benner, associate dean for residence life, and Kerry Fankhauser, associate dean for programming and leadership.

"This just seemed to me to be a unifying event right from the outset that says 'we know that on college campuses around the country that relationship and sexual violence is an issue' and Richmond is no exception," Boehman said. "We wanted to take a very visible stance and say, as a community, we're not going to stand for this any longer.

"We decided we didn't want to talk about a rape-free zone because we wanted to talk about the larger issue of relationship and sexual violence."

According to a report from Counseling and Psychological Services, of the 561 students who sought CAPS services during the 2010-2011 school year, 33 women and six men reported being victims of relationship violence. Twelve women reported being victims of sexual assault prior to coming to Richmond and nine women reported being victims while at Richmond.

In the Healthy Minds survey conducted by CAPS during spring 2011, of 1062 participants including 726 women and 336 men, 12 percent of women and 3 percent of men reported someone had touched them in a sexual manner against their will or consent within the past 12 months. Survey respondents also reported that within the past 12 months 8.8 percent of women and 7.5 percent of men had recognized having unwanted sex while drunk or using drugs.

Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to sign up for free T-shirts promoting the campaign. The front of the T-shirt contains the day's slogan "It Ends Now" and the back reads, "I pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about relationship or sexual violence."

There is a space for a signature beneath the pledge on the T-shirt. Below the signature are promotions for three additional campus initiatives associated with ending sexual and relationship violence: the Clothesline Project, the White Ribbon Campaign and Take Back the Night. Campus offices along with WCGA and RCSGA contributed to sponsoring the T-shirts.

Boehman said 1,040 people had signed up for shirts. "It's not just students, there are faculty, staff, housekeeping staff, President Ayers, vice presidents and a variety of campus offices all signed up to receive and wear shirts," he said.

Fankhauser said she hoped there would be a large and visible campus presence wearing the T-shirt on Sept. 16 and expressing their commitment to violence prevention. She said she hoped students would realize that there were a large number of people who did not want to be a part of violence.

"I'm very happy with the response that we've received," she said. "Throughout all these things I hope students will start to recognize situations that could become problematic that they otherwise would not have noticed.

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"Maybe it will give someone the courage to speak up the next time they see something they wouldn't have spoken up about before."

Junior Ronwyn Pritchett and president of Future American Men of Excellence said he was contacted during the summer by Boehman asking for his organization's support for the campaign and was immediately committed.

"I think this initiative brings awareness to those who don't know about sexual and relationship violence," he said "and brings a form of comfort to those who have experienced it for them to know that there are people who know and understand, or who are trying to understand, and trying to help."

Pritchett said he had encouraged all members of his organization to order T-shirts and hoped "It Ends Now" would become an annual campaign at Richmond.

T-shirts can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 14 and from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 15 beneath the Whitehurst breezeway.

Contact staff writer Sarah Bowers at sarah.bowers@richmond.edu

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