KINGSTON - URI students came together and showed off their dance moves on Valentine’s Day to help spread awareness to end violence against women as part of the worldwide One Billion Rising movement.
Dance parties, rallies and performances were held in more than 194 countries as part of a campaign that Eva Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues," started to raise awareness.
“V-day is a day to recognize violence and abuse against women, but most importantly it’s about loving women,” said Victoria Lombardi, one of URI’s Peer Advocates. “It holds the same ideals as Valentine’s Day, only showing support.”
URI took part in this movement by setting up booths in the Memorial Union and Hope Commons dining facility to encourage student interest and to spread awareness about an issue that is so prominent in today’s society.
According to a report by the United Nations, one in three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. V-day is a day for everyone in the world to come together to recognize these statistics and make a stand to show that this type of behavior is not acceptable.
“The movement started online, with short films of women celebrating themselves," Lombardi said. "Dancing is universal in all countries and is such a powerful form of expression.”
Day One, a Providence group that focuses on helping those affected by sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes, contacted URI’s Peer Advocates to get students involved in this movement. The student-led organization then reached out to the Ramettes, URI’s dance team, to make a video showing URI support, as well as athletes and the rest of the students on campus.
“Day One got us going in the right direction,” said Ashley Tennett, a URI senior and Peer Advocate intern. “But it was really our Peer Advocates that made the whole thing possible.”
According to the Peer Advocates, the booths attracted a lot of student attention, both male and female.
“Males get really involved too- they all have a mother, a sister or a girl best friend. It hits home for them and they want to help protect the women in their lives,” said Tennett.
In addition to the booths during the day, some students also took part in a Zumba class later that night to show their support. Other Peer Advocates used their phones to record students dancing throughout the day to post on YouTube.
“One Billion Rising isn’t just a one day event,” said Tennett. “URI will probably do this again next year, but for now we are going to continue with what we are doing by raising awareness every day, and not just on V-day.”
URI plans on hosting a variety of events in the future to further increase awareness.
The Vagina Monologues are scheduled to take place on Feb. 28, March 1 and March 2 in Edwards Auditorium. Ticket proceeds will go to URI’s Peer Advocates, We’re Offering Women Wisdom (WOWW), the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ center.
URI will also be hosting a week dedicated to teen dating violence. Tables will be set up to help answer any questions students may have, and to educate them on healthy and non-healthy relationships.