Nida Kuruvilla, an intern at the Center for Prevention and Outreach, helped lead the “Take a Stand, Walk With Me” march against domestic violence. Photo by Trevor Christian (Oct. 29, 2014)
By Catherine Bonke
Arts and Features Editor
During the usual hum of Campus Lifetime on Wednesday, the Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) led its annual march called “Take a Stand, Walk with Me,” to promote awareness and speak out against domestic violence.
What started as a small group of students on the Student Activities Center Plaza soon grew into a crowd, as those passing by were drawn in by shocking statistics on handwritten signs. Some of the most shocking were facts like “a rape occurs every 21 hours on a college campus in the United States” and “60 percent of rapes go unreported.”
More students and faculty were drawn in when Swallow This, a theater group that raises awareness about drugs, alcohol and sex, performed a skit and song about college friendships and sexual relationships, where one character was upset about having his sexual advances rejected. At the end of their performance, one of the performers asked the audience, “Can men and women just be friends?”
Walking around the Melville Library and the Staller Center for the Arts, the Stony Brook Athletic Band’s percussion section helped set the high energy mood of the event.
Priscila Quiroz, an intern with CPO, encouraged the crowd by running up and down the parade route with a megaphone. She led the group in a chant: “Seawolves, break the silence! Take a stand to stop the violence!”
Quiroz has been working with CPO to plan the event for almost a month and was described by Christine Szaraz, the Prevention and Outreach Counselor, as a “promotion dynamo.”
Jumping around with enthusiasm and sporting purple face paint, Quiroz said she is concerned that people don’t see domestic violence as an issue and that college students are at the most risk.
“We think that if a woman is dressed in a revealing way that it is okay if she is touched, or if a person is intoxicated, it is okay to have sex with them,” she said. “We tend to blame our victims instead of perpetrators.”
One of the loudest groups during the march where the cluster of male supporters, who also donned face paint and hand written signs. The brothers from Kappa Sigma came out to support the march, hoping to break any stigmas that the campus may have about fraternities and sexual violence, according to Chris Grippo, the president of the fraternity.
With the recent HeForShe movement, which encourages men to get involved in the fight for women’s rights, the fraternity wants to step up to the plate.
“It’s absolutely necessary to men to be in the conversation for more effective communication,” said Brian Howard, a member of Kappa Sigma, going on to say that men will be able to encourage and communicate each other to have a more positive influence in the movement.
Another major voice present at this year’s march was the LGBTQ services, which also marched with a banner that read “Intimate Partner Violence affects all communities.” The group hoped to debunk the myth that domestic violence only occurs between a man and a woman, according to Chris Tanaka, a Staff Worker for CPO and the coordinator for LGBTQ services.
“Events like this raise awareness that we need to build a community of respect,” Tanaka said.
After the march, a rally and a panel discussion in the SAC Auditorium gave students the opportunity to interact with several local domestic abuse agencies and on campus resources. A panel discussion broke down how SBU handles sexual assault cases, emphasizing protection for the victim’s emotional, physical and academic needs. Representatives from Title IX and Risk Management, the Office of University Community Standards, the University Police, the Provosts Office, the Counseling and Psychological services and Student Health Services each spoke about the roles that their offices play in the support of victims.
“I feel like I stand for all women who’ve been abused,” said Chantal Brown, a junior majoring Health Sciences. This was her first year participating in the march. “It happens a lot around us, but we are not really aware.”