To many, February 14 may be a day for celebrating love and romance.
However to others, the date also referred to as “V-Day” is an international day of action against gender violence.
Last year for the first time at Keene State College, V-Day brought its global activist movement to campus with its “One Billion Rising for Justice” campaign.
Many students involved in the Women and Gender Studies program at KSC worked together again this February to create and promote the event for the second year in a row.
However, due to the unfortunate timing of the winter snow storm, the event had to be pushed back a week from its original date, and took place instead on Feb. 20.
Students involved in the One Billion Rising campaign gathered outside the student center lawn, mid-afternoon, with signs and words of protest against sexual assault violence.
The leader of the event, Hersch Rothmel, a junior student at KSC studying women and gender studies, said that he believed the event was not as largely attended as it would have been had the postponement never occurred.
“The week set back really hurt us in two parts, one because people didn’t know that the date was change—the signs around the student center probably said the wrong date,” “Rothmel continued, “And partly because this was part of a larger V-Day week that included The Vagina Monologues and Healthy Relationships Day.”
The week setback did not prevent Tyler Valletta, a junior safety major, from attending the event. Valetta said that the “Signs, flyers and Facebook promotion really helped spread the word.”
Rothmel and those in attendance were in agreement that, despite this set- back, they achieved what they came out to do—spread awareness of sexual violence.
“I think that it was good nonetheless. A lot of people were watching and reading the signs,” Rothmel said.
Rothmel and the One Billion Rising campaign unanimously agreed that awareness is the main goal.
When asked what he hopes KSC students will gain from this campaign, Rothmel had no hesitation as he gave his answer.
“I hope for students to gain awareness, and for people who have experienced sexual assault violence to know there are people with concern who are doing something about this issue,” he said.
According to Rothmel, a goal is to make the campus a safer place, and “to make people think about sexual violence as something that affects them and not just something they hear about every once in a while,” Rothmel said.
While people may hear about sexual violence, especially during their college years, they may not give the topic much thought.
According to Rothmel, the statistics show that gender-based violence is a prevalent issue today.
Rothmel stated that “One in four women in their time in college will experience attempted or sexual assault, that’s what the statistics show. And because it’s under-reported it’s probably much higher.” Patricia Pedroza, a professor of women’s and gender studies at KSC said she believes that One Billion Rising and the activism shown at KSC is extremely important on an global scale.
“One Billion Rising is relevant because it is part of a global campaign,” Pedroza said, “There are few opportunities where activist groups against women violence can connect and gather.”
Rothmel said he is very proud of his group’s work, specifically, the KSC campus is much more proactive with One Billion Rising and the V-Day campaign than most.
“I think we’re doing a really good job on this campus, especially compared to a lot of other campuses who are really in the dark ages about this stuff,” Rothmel said.
“It’s a real issue that a lot of people experience, and is part of a larger plan on this campus to really be proactive about sexual violence and not be reactive,” Rothmel said.
While raising awareness at KSC was a goal well achieved, Pedroza continued the idea of this event even further. “I hope that participants were aware that this kind of violence—sexual violence—is a huge global concern,” Pedroza said.
Alexa Ondreicka can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org