One billion risen

University students, faculty join global campaign, support efforts to stop gender-based violence


Human rights groups from around Grounds joined forces Thursday to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence by participating in a global campaign called One Billion Rising.

The event, sponsored by Spectrum Theatre and the University Women’s Center, arranged a resource and activities fair filled with speeches, dance routines and artwork in the Newcomb Ballroom to raise awareness for these issues.

The campaign has been working to end sexual and domestic violence for 15 years, and individuals in 203 countries hosted events Thursday to continue the effort, said event coordinator Katie Ryan, a fourth-year College student.

Various groups set up stations in the resource fair, offering students the opportunity to see the positive work happening in Charlottesville. “This is a great opportunity for different organizations to come together, speak out about injustice and what we can do to combat it,” second-year Darden student Elizabeth Stewart said. Groups at the resource fair included the International Justice Mission, Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority Inc. and the Women’s Initiative among others.

One Billion Rising also gave students an opportunity to showcase their creative works. Artwork portraying women in various forms of freedom and oppression adorned the back room of the event and various performance groups took to the stage in support for the cause. “I think it’s good that women can have an event like this and openly talk about it,” said fourth-year College student Jeremy Heartley, who participated in the Bollywood Dance Club’s performance.

One Billion Rising’s most profound statement of the day took the form of a flash mob dance, one that occurred in all 203 countries participating in the campaign. “At some point during this day, all over the world, women are dancing,” said Bri Balone, director of the University’s rendition of the Vagina Monologues. “Dancing is a form of freedom — oppression can’t hold us down, not physically, not emotionally, not anymore.”

Along with raising awareness, One Billion Rising also serves as a fundraiser. Ten percent of the money raised at Thursday’s event in Newcomb will be donated to the national V-Day foundation to fight sexual assault, and 90 percent will stay close to home with the White Ribbon Campaign and the University Women’s Center.

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