Students met on the Diag last night at a vigil held in memory of all women who have been victims of violence at the hands of men. The vigil last night marked the end of Ann Arbor’s White Ribbon Campaign, sponsored by the organization Men Against Violence Against Women.
The campaign began in 1991 as a response to the Montreal Massacre, in which a man shot and killed 14 women at the University of Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. Today marks the 15th anniversary of that incident.
The now-international campaign is held annually during the first week of December and raises awareness of the seriousness of violence against women.
Nearly 25 percent of college women are subject to the violence of men, Coert Ambrosino, a member of the group, said last night during the vigil. “By taking part in the White Ribbon Campaign, we hope to change people’s perception that men’s violence against women is acceptable.”
During the vigil, MAVAW observed a moment of silence for women who have died as a result of violence. Some participants handed out candles to students and spoke in memory of three women associated with the University who had died as victims of men’s violence.
Last week, MAVAW distributed white ribbons and held events in order to raise awareness about men’s violence against women.
Almost 75 group members helped hand out ribbons to students and encouraged other men to take a personal pledge to end violence against women. Men wearing the ribbon agreed to never commit, condone or remain silent about such violence.
“If every man was to take a personal pledge, we wouldn’t have a problem,” said Ambrosino, an LSA sophomore.
This year’s campaign was the most successful ever, according to MAVAW. Overall, 5,000 white ribbons pinned to flyers were distributed to men and women alike passing through the Diag. Many female students took ribbons to give to their boyfriends or other men they knew, Ambrosino said.
In addition to distributing ribbons, the group held a poetry event on Wednesday. During the poetry session, male students read pieces that related to violence against women.
“It was a good way to express their feelings about how they felt about violence against women and violence in general,” said Vincent Paviglianiti, an active supporter of the group.
Paviglianiti, an LSA senior, hopes that events like these will help people realize that such violence is a serious issue. “The first step is admitting that there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with,” Paviglianiti said.
LSA senior Megan Shuchman, one of few women present at the vigil, said she was pleased with the campaign. “Male participation is really important in the issue of violence against women,” Shuchman said. “We appreciate that men are willing to get involved in this struggle.”
MAVAW also participates in other events throughout the year, including “Take Back the Night,” a march and rally; “Femme Fair” and “V-day,” which is a global campaign against violence against women.
“Change occurs with little things,” Paviglianiti said. “We need to be aware of the issue. Violence against women is no joke.”
MAVAW will continue to spread its message through events like the White Ribbon Campaign. The group holds weekly meetings open to everyone on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Michigan Union.