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White Ribbon Campaign at SU to raise awareness about domestic, sexual violence

Luke Rafferty | Asst. Photo Editor

Raheem Mack, men’s outreach program assistant coordinator at Vera House, gives a presentation Wednesday afternoon at Bird Library as part of The White Ribbon Campaign, a male-led, month-long effort to raise awareness about domestic, sexual and relationship abuse.

Several Syracuse University student organizations will be selling white ribbons, wristbands and pins this month as a part of a community-wide awareness campaign against domestic and sexual violence.

The White Ribbon Campaign is an international, male-led campaign against domestic, sexual and relationship abuse.

“By wearing a white ribbon, you pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about domestic or sexual violence,” said Paul Ang, a student co-chair of the White Ribbon Campaign.

Students will continue to spread awareness about domestic violence by selling ribbons, wristbands and pins all month. The Hall of Languages was also lit purple, the traditional color of domestic violence awareness, from April 9-13.

Students can buy white ribbons or wristbands for $1 or heart pins for $5 at the Schine Student Center and campus dining halls. Vera House’s White Ribbon Campaign lasts for 10 days, from April 12-21.

The campaign started in Canada in 1991 after an anti-feminist killed 14 female students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Since then, the movement, which is described as “the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls,” has spread to more than 60 countries, according to the campaign’s website.

Traditionally, women have been burdened with the task of preventing sexual violence by avoiding certain situations, Ang said. But the involvement of men is key because preventative behavior on the woman’s part “can help reduce the risk, but it doesn’t prevent the violence,” he said.

Ang is also an organizational mentor for A Men’s Issue, a men’s group on campus that seeks to “redefine masculinity” and end domestic, sexual and relationship violence.

All proceeds from the sale of ribbons, wristbands and pins will support the educational programs and shelter services at Vera House, a service agency in the city of Syracuse that aims to “assist families in crisis” and “promote a culture of equality and respect in relationships,” according to its website.

In addition to providing shelter, counseling and advocacy to victims of domestic violence, Vera House sponsors mentors and violence prevention programs in public and private schools across the city.

For the last several years, SU has been one of Vera House’s top 20 fundraisers in the White Ribbon Campaign, along with local high schools, hospitals and other colleges, said Chris Benton, Vera House’s director of communications and special events.

“SU has always been a partner in the work that we do,” she said.

This year, cutbacks in government spending will make the role of private donors like SU even more important in meeting Vera House’s $100,000 fundraising goal, Benton said.

SU and Vera House have always had a special relationship, and the campaign is an important part of promoting a safe environment on campus, said Thomas Wolfe, senior vice president and dean of student affairs.

Said Wolfe: “When you wear a white ribbon or a wristband, you are saying you aren’t going to condone any language or action that belittles women, you’re not going to say it’s funny to joke about sexual assault.”

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