In the midst of an ordinary bustling cafeteria, students were caught off guard when a flashmob jammed out to "Run the World (Girls)" by BeyoncÃ© during primetime lunch hours. Proud, excited and honored, they took the stage in the cafeteria to take a stance against violence, lift spirits and bring a positive energy to the room.
About 20 of Ramapo's students, staff and faculty decided to come out and actively support a global activist movement, 1 Billion-Rising campaign. They joined in a creative dance to raise awareness and attract attention to the purpose of the event, which was a collaboration of Ramapo College, healingSPACE at the YWCA of Bergen County, Alternatives to Domestic Violence and Shelter our Sisters. Students with bright green T-shirts began dancing in the middle of the cafeteria and it certainly left an impression.
"Arts and performance is a way of healing. Women take ownership of their bodies through dancing, this is an international day to have one billion people dance on V-Day and have more girls and women step into leadership roles to end violence against women," Kat McGee, Assistant Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Coordinator of the Women's Center said.
This was the 15th anniversary of this international event and the first year Ramapo introduced it to campus. One billion people in 200 countries own their bodies by dancing out on Valentine's Day. McGee explained that the significance of having this event on Valentine's Day is in bringing its power as a symbol to bear in the fight to end violence against women. As women all over the world join together, they collectively show their strength empowering every woman to take a stand.
"Support and bring awareness. Violence includes so much, date-rape which is the most common among college students and 80 percent of it involves alcohol and drugs," Chrisula Tasiopoulos, Senior Director of Sexual Violence at healingSPACE said.
HealingSPACE provides a 24-hour hotline, and students can also avail themselves of the violence prevention program that has been implemented by the Women's Center.
"This is important because it shows that Ramapo is a safe place because it is so involved in making campus safe, especially for women but for students overall," senior Rachel Day said.
According to Genna Ayres, the Coordinator of the Women's Center, the entirety of the Student Center and Women's Center participated in this event to reach out to students. It's a hard issue to talk about, so the event was designed to plant the seed in people's minds. The more people witness behavior counteracting the culture of sexual violence, the more little changes they will implement in their own lives, and ultimately the easier it'll be to change the culture overall.