Red security tape labeled “Rape-Free Zone” marked off the Diag yesterday as over 100 people gathered on the Diag to kick off V-Day 2002 with a large rally.
The involvement rate at the University for V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, has dramatically increased from previous years, members said.
The rally, featuring various student and faculty speakers, music and slam poetry all relating to issue of women”s rights and protection was designed to energize the campus for the rest of the day”s events and encourage many people to become involved in the movement to stop violence against women.
“We”re trying to spread the word on violence against women and to let people know that women”s protection issues are still a problem. V-Day is more than the production of the Vagina Monologues. It”s the whole day,” said RC freshman Megan Shuman, one organizer of the Diag Rally Campaign.
Women”s studies Prof. Lisa King Low addressed the issue of women often bearing the blame for the violence committed against them when alcohol is involved.
“Alcohol should never be an excuse for the violation of a woman. I urge women to stay aware and to stay in control,” Low said.
The importance of sisterhood was referred to both in poems and speech from V-Day participants.
Jane Hassinger, Women”s studies professor and faculty advisor for the V-Day college campaign, said, “We are sisters over the globe that face the threat of violence every day.”
Though the female presence was clearly represented, many males were out on the Diag promoting V-Day, as well as witnessing the events.
Engineering freshman Tommie Mcafee said, “I feel like we need more rallies and events like this. Being a minority, I know it what it”s like to be underrepresented.”
A V-Day forum in the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union followed the rally. Representatives from various student groups and community organizations such as the newly formed Women”s Studies Association and The Women”s Center of America came to give information to students about volunteer opportunities within these groups as well as to educate them on women”s issues.
“This forum is an arena for empowerment, education and awareness. It is meant to cultivate support among everybody,” said Allison Rodenhouse, a graduate student in the School of Social Work and intern at The Women”s Center of America.
The forum also planned for the attendees to take part in the Clothesline project, where plain white t-shirts were given to women to decorate according to their experiences with violence and sexual assault. The finished t-shirts were to be hung in the lobby of Hill Auditorium for viewing before and after the Eve Ensler production of the Vagina Monologues, the final and largest event of V-Day.