Students on campus broke into dance at noon Thursday for V-Day: a One Billion Rising movement to end violence against women all around the world.
One Billion Rising began as a call of action based on the statistics that one in three women worldwide will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Megan Flores, women’s studies major and president of People Organized for Women’s Empowerment and Representation (P.O.W.E.R.) the student-run club, said the goal of the event was to rise, strike and dance.
“Those who participate in the event are rising and making it known that they are against this unnecessary evil,” Flores said.
The annual worldwide event is in its 15th year. At Fresno State it was celebrated in the Free Speech Area. Students and faculty danced to the official V-Day song, “Break the Chain” and to other songs including the Macarena and the Cupid Shuffle. The event also included a student playing a guitar in the background as others recited poems about violence against women.
A booth was set up to provide information about the mission of One Billion Rising and ways in which to advocate for women affected by violence. Students held up signs as other students spoke out on violence. The event concluded with students and faculty members reforming the conga line and dancing.
Students enrolled in a women’s studies activism class organized the campus event. Flores said she and other students noticed news stories of women being beaten and raped daily.
“This doesn’t just happen on the bad side of town. This happened to one of our very own, here on campus last semester,” Flores said. “It’s because of these reasons that my peers and I felt as though this was an appropriate event and cause to bring awareness to our fellow peers.”
Flores said that they received support from different women’s organizations including P.O.W.E.R and Women’s Alliance.
“The response we have gotten from the public has been amazing,” Flores said.
Janet Trapp Slagter, instructor of the activism class said her class teaches students how to create such events.
“This semester they jumped right in from the first day of class to begin researching this new, worldwide uprising, then reading and brainstorming what the work would include and dividing up the tasks necessary to make the event fun and successful,” Slagter said.
Slagter praised her students for their hard work.
“They brought enormous energy and brilliant ideas to this work,” she said. “I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be happy that their students have showed such initiative and dedication.”
Stephanie Canales, a student enrolled in the class, said she was motivated to be part of the event based on her love of women’s studies.
“We accepted the challenge knowing that we didn’t have time to prepare but trusting that people care about women’s affairs and because we felt motivated to spread the word,” Canales said. “I’m so inspired and convicted that we need a social change.”
Canales said that she was pleased with the outcome of the event.
“I was so happy dancing and having fun with everyone,” Canales said. “There was great participation from all students.”
Canales said that she and fellow students are planning future events with the hope of making them bigger and better.