SARP hosts White Ribbon Week to combat interpersonal violence

Boston University’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center is sponsoring White Ribbon Week from Monday to Thursday to advocate against sexual and interpersonal violence on campus.

“By taking the WRW pledge, we promise to promote respect, dignity and equality, and speak out against attitudes and behaviors that contribute to assault or violence,” said SARP Administrative Coordinator Sarah Voorhees. “Terriers are pro-social, positive bystanders who step up and step in to end interpersonal violence.”

BU’s campaign is part of a larger international movement, concluding in White Ribbon Day Thursday, to promote intervention and prevention services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and their children, Voorhees said.

For their second annual White Ribbon Week campaign at BU, SARP’s student advocates and volunteers, working closely with the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, set up tables at several locations at BU. Advocates placed tables at the George Sherman Union Link, 100 Bay State Road and BU’s Fitness and Recreation Center.

Simon Cantwell, a College of Engineering freshman, worked at a table in the GSU Link.

“I’ve had a lot of people stop by today that seem really into White Ribbon Week and what it stands for,” he said. “I was surprised by the amount of people who signed, it was pretty impressive to see.”

Tori Dutcher-Brown, the CGSA’s public relations coordinator, said beyond providing a vital sense of awareness and activism against sexual assault and violence on campus, White Ribbon Week also provides a greater forum for discussion and a sense of solidarity amongst survivors of sexual assault or violence.

“White Ribbon Week is so vital to our community because it gives survivors a voice,” said Dutcher-Brown, a College of Arts and Sciences freshman. “It works against the societal tendency which silences people who have had crimes committed against them or who have even been told these crimes are their own fault. WRW gives these people a forum to discuss these issues openly and unapologetically.”

SARP, which works closely with many other campus centers and organizations to provide medical care and support to sexual assault victims around campus, hopes to establish White Ribbon Week as an annual event at BU, Voorhees said.

“SARP hopes that BU White Ribbon Week will become a tradition that students look forward to, each March, recommitting themselves to be part of the solution to end interpersonal violence,” she said.

Dutcher-Brown said White Ribbon Week encourages a sense of community among students who have endured violence in the past.

“It’s very important for all of us to have people in our space discuss their experiences and find validation with other survivors to know that there’s people who are working together and trying to get them justice,” she said. “If there’s no awareness, how is there supposed to be action?”

On Thursday, students who signed the White Ribbon Pledge will wear White Ribbon pins, distributed by SARP volunteers, to display support to symbolize the greater international movement to end sexual assault and bring justice to survivors and their families, Voorhees said.

“The White Ribbon Campaign is active worldwide in 60 countries, and has collected millions of signatures,” Voorhees said. “BU White Ribbon Week aims to remind us that interpersonal violence is an issue that affects all of us and that we must be active in being part of the solution.”

Voorhees said BU’s tight-knit student community was a catalyst for both White Ribbon Week’s success and its growing prominence in BU’s movement against sexual assault and violence.

“At Boston University we are a community,” she said. “We care about our fellow Terriers.”

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