As students’ eyes start to wander during a lecture, whether in a philosophy class or a biology lab, they often land on the little sign above the whiteboard in nearly every classroom. Four silhouettes, the first three gray and the final one red. Next to the graphic are the words “KNOW: 1 in 4 women are victims.”
“It is easy to see the signs around campus,” senior Mary DeMars said, “but to actually be knowledgeable about the situation is what matters.”
Students in Introduction to Women’s Studies along with the Sexual Assault Awareness Team (SAAT) are shedding light on this statistic. Students are volunteering to give voices to the red silhouettes by reading their stories in the 6th Annual V-Day performance.
“V-Day is an international movement started by Eve Ensler,” Katy Strzepek, Director of Women’s Studies said, “to raise awareness and funds to stop violence against women and girls.”
A V-Day Benefit Reading of “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer,” has been performed at St. Ambrose since 2009. The stories, edited by Ensler and Mollie Doyle, are in-your-face accounts of abuse against women. St. Ambrose students will be reading these stories, giving voices to the voiceless.
“This show will be a powerful protest against violence,” Natividad Hirsch Bautista, a women’s studies student, said, “I get to be a speaker and I will really be able to embody this vulnerable person’s story.”
Students in the women’s studies course are spending weeks planning this year’s March event. Since 2009, the St. Ambrose performance has raised almost $5,000 for domestic violence shelters and victims of abuse. The experience is always an educational one for all involved.
“College students who become educated about abuse can learn not to blame the victim” Strzepek said. “And they can also learn how to help survivors and how to intervene before the violence occurs.”
The show raises awareness of local and global violence. Strzepek loves witnessing students live out the Ambrosian vision of social justice through the event. She has also been touched by women who have become involved and have later shared their experiences with abuse.
“I’ve grown up watching my mother go through an abusive relationship,” a women’s studies student said. “Now is my time to use my voice to stand up for my mom and for others who have suffered.”
Students in Strzepek’s women’s studies class are passionate and determined to see the success of another year’s program because of the disconnect and disbelief about violence against women.
“So many people here feel it might not apply to them, but it does,” Hirsch Bautista said. “As humans, we all need to take a stand against violence. Even if we aren’t perpetrating or experiencing violence, this show will be powerful and meaningful for everyone.”
This year’s proceeds will go to SafePath Survivor Resources, the violence prevention, counseling, and shelter programs at Family Resources.
The show will be performed in the Rogalski Center Ballroom on March 26 at 7:00p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for faculty, staff, and community members. Raffle baskets and t-shirts will be for sale.
To participate or perform, contact SAAT President Lindsey Mack at MackLindseyM@sau.edu.
For tickets or for more information, contact Katy Strzepek at (563)333-6113 or StrzepekKatyA@sau.edu.