Colleges and universities offer all kinds of opportunities for students to speak out about issues they are passionate about and raise money for organizations they support. You’re probably already pioneering the dating violence awareness and prevention movement at your own school, but here are some ideas you might want to add to your semester plans.
Start a Student Organization Student organizations are the best way to get students involved in their campus community. What your organization does is really up to you, but you can choose to hold meetings to discuss what’s happening in your local or university domestic violence movements, organize fundraisers like bake sales or clothing drives to benefit community shelters and have a general positive presence on campus by giving out information in the student common areas or at events to educate students about DV awareness and prevention. Talk to your student involvement or organization department about starting your own club.
Present at Orientation Educating incoming students about dating violence is an effective way to prevent dating violence at your school. Some orientations cover this information with students and parents in a lecture structure, but others organize skit performances or have campus law enforcement speak to better engage students about the dangers of dating violence and the resources available on campus if a student does become involved in a DV situation. Get in touch with your orientation leadership program to see what you can do to be involved next summer.
Plan Campus Festivities & Fundraisers Does your school have carnivals, concerts or movies nights for students on campus? A great idea to spread awareness is to set up an information booth or a bake sale table during an event collecting proceeds for local sexual assault and dating violence programs. Is there a documentary you’ve seen that discusses sexual or domestic violence? Talk to the event planning committees or a professor at your school to have it shown on campus. Sometimes professors will even offer extra credit for attendance, so advertise and invite all of your friends.
Take Back the Night April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and organizing a Take Back the Night at your school is a great way to observe it. Take Back the Night celebrates survivors and honors victims of sexual assault. Usually held outside, there are speakers from the community and performances about ending sexual assault and dating violence. This is followed by an open mic for anyone in attendance to share their story or talk about the impact of sexual violence on their own life. Some schools end the night with a candle lighting to honor victims and a campus-wide march, complete with big signs and chants. (Some favorites are “Yes mean yes/No means no/Whatever we wear/Wherever we go” and “We have the power/we have the right/the streets are ours/take back the night.”) Do you plan on giving any of these ideas a try this coming semester? What do you do to raise awareness and prevention in your college community?
*Photo courtesy of Rachel Patterson