LOUDONVILLE On Valentine’s Day, activists around the world participated in an event called One Billion Rising for Justice, which was created to raise awareness about violence against women. Due to inclement weather, Siena had to reschedule theirs.
Weather nearly scuttled the event a second time as organizers quickly scrambled to bring the outdoor gathering inside, and on Friday, March 28, students, faculty, dance groups and News Channel 13 anchor Elaine Houston gathered in the Sarazen Student Union at Siena College to participate in the global initiative that started last year.
“Our mission is to promote a safer campus. We’re excited this year’s event is bigger than last year’s. That means we’re making progress. We’re excited to get more of the community involved. Each year, we hope to make it bigger,” said Olivia Emigh, a junior at Siena and member of PEEP’s (Peer Education and Empowerment Program).
The PEEP’s go to freshmen classes and tell students what signs to look for to help indentify abusive relationships, how to recognize situations at a party where someone may need help and how to change situations to prevent bad things from happening to other students.
“It’s wonderful that we are all here so that we can let our voices by be heard,” said Houston. “If you think this is something that only affects women and girls, you would be wrong because it affects men as well. You are the people that are primarily the ones that can help us stop this because you, as men, can go talk to other men and ask them to respect women … I’m very happy and very hopeful to see so many men out here.”
This year’s event featured three dance groups and is a different way of raising awareness than picketing or demonstrating.
“When you think about raising awareness for something, you’re thinking of protesting and people with signs. So, why do we choose dance? Dance is something that you can go anyplace in the world, and people love to dance and people understand dance,” said Houston.