V-Week 2012 events begin at end of month

Staci Poston, Managing Editor

Students and faculty are planning their fifth year of V-Day events as part of a global movement to end violence against women and girls. The week-long succession of V-Day events, called V-Week, will take place from Feb. 27 to March 3.

The events are geared to raise funds and awareness in the fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault.  This year’s V-Week will feature two performances of Eve Ensler’s award-winning “The Vagina Monologues,” the event that usually draws the most publicity and attendance.

The first performance will take place on Thursday, March 1 in Chapman Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students. Tickets can be obtained at the door or by calling (843) 661-1552.

The second performance, in the Performing Arts Center Box Theatre, will be held on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.  These tickets are $10 for general admission plus a $3 processing fee and can be obtained through the box office at (843) 661-4444 or www.fmupac.org.

This is the first time that two performances will be offered.

English Instructor and V-Day Publicity Director Lisa Stuchell said that she is looking forward to both performances and hopes to expand audiences by expanding venues.

“We’re so excited about the opportunity to perform in the Performing Arts Center,” Stuchell said.  “Hopefully this will bring in people from the community.”

V-Week will kick off with a performance and discussion of “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer. ”  This performance, sponsored by FMU’s Gender Studies Program, will take place in Lowrimore Auditorium on Monday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.  General admission is $1.

Dr. Janis McWayne, coordinator of the Gender Studies program, explained why they chose to sponsor this event this year.

“I wanted to produce this event because it presents violence from various perspectives – including some male perspectives,” Mc-Wayne said. “The Gender Studies program strives to be inclusive of diverse genders and perspectives.  The monologues are beautifully written and thought provoking.  I thought that it would help raise awareness and educate our audience about domestic violence and sexual assault from diverse points of view.”

McWayne also said that she hopes these monologues and the other V-Week events will raise awareness and help reduce the rate of violence in South Carolina from its 2011 rank of 46 out of 50 for violent crime in the United States.

“I am hoping that these thought-provoking monologues will bring an understanding to our audience that violence is difficult for all persons involved,” McWayne said.

The Clothesline Project, a regular feature of V-Week, will begin after the performance.

This project is meant to provide an outlet for expressing emotion by decorating a shirt. Each marker color used to decorate the shirt represents a different form of abuse and whether the victim survived or not.  The decorated shirts will be displayed on a clothes-line behind Founders Hall.

The Clothesline Project will continue to take place on the Founders Hall Lawn every day during V-Week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This year, Take Back the Night, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta, will be another new V-Week event.

Take Back the Night, which actually began in the 1970s, is a way to address the anxiety that women may feel while walking alone at night.  The walk will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2 at The Fountain and will proceed across campus.

English Instructor Natalie Mahaffey, who helped organize V-Week, explained the event’s purpose.

“During the walk, we will have a candlelight vigil for victims, and statistics and stories will be told sporadically,” Mahaffey said. “It is meant to be a time of healing, of reflection, and of empowerment for women on the campus. Women should feel safe to walk across their college campuses at anytime without threat.”

The Tree of Hope and The Wall of Stories, two other V-Week activities, are also part of the Take Back the Night movement this year and mark the starting and ending points of the walk.

Students are encouraged to purchase $1 ribbons for the Tree of Hope at the V-Week table.

“The ribbon colors are Red for survivors of an attack, White in honor of someone who has died in an attack, and Pink for those in support of victims of abuse,” Mahaffey said. “They are invited to tie the ribbon they purchase on the tree, which will be located just outside of the breezeway on the big lawn.”

The Wall of Stories, which will be located on an outside wall of the cafeteria, provides a chance for people to give a voice to stories of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

“The Wall of Stories is an opportunity for people to tell their story or the story of someone they support,” Mahaffey said. “Sheets will be available for them to fill out (they can do so anonymously if they want) and turn in at the table. Then, at the end of the Take Back the Night Walk, these stories will be distributed to people who have participated in the walk. Each person will attach the story they receive to the Wall of Stories.”

The Wall of Stories and the Tree of Hope both function as outlets for people to give testimony, express emotions, and begin healing.  Mahaffey said that she hopes these events provide a positive experience for the participants and hopefully raise awareness in others.

“Both of these things are meant to provide a voice for survivors, supporters, and those who lost their life through abuse,” Mahaffey said. “Many times, people hear of abuse and they say, ‘I feel bad’ and then go on about their lives. If they are able to visualize the abuse, hold it in their hands, and hopefully feel an emotional connection to these stories that need to be told, they are more likely to do something besides feel bad.”

Mahaffey also stressed that V-Week events are not just for women.

“I’d really like to encourage the men on campus to tell their stories, as well,” Mahaffey said. “Oftentimes when sexual and domestic abuse is discussed, men are overlooked. They shouldn’t be. They are affected just as women are.”

Other V-Week events include the women’s health event “Any One of Us” in Lee Nursing Building on Thursday, March 1 at 11 a.m. and the “SUPER WOMAN” art exhibit before each performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Proceeds from V-Week events benefit the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Abuse.

More information about the global V-Day movement is available at www.vday.org.