Maria M. Silva, Spec. Assignments Reporter
The Womyn’s Resource Center (WRC) held a panel on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to highlight gender violence, which included the participation of speaker Sarah Kriksciun, a representative from the non-profit organization Futures Without Violence.
Nov. 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the first day of the 16 Days of Activism, a campaign that culminates on December 10 with the celebration of Human Rights Day around the world.
The event also included a raffle that will benefit Futures Without Violence, which works to combat violence “against women and children around the world,” according to their website.
The WRC has participated for a number of years in holding events to acknowledge the 16 Days of Activism movement, which originated in the early 1990s. Every year around the 16 Days of Activism period, the WRC chooses an organization that works for social justice issues and holds an event to make a contribution to it.
Kriksciun participated in the event via Skype, talking about the challenges that gender violence poses nationally and internationally and provided a few statistics about the state of the issue around the globe, warning that “gender violence affects one in four women around the world.”
Alane Varga, dean of diversity and inclusion, stated that the purpose of the event was “to provide some information about the 16 Days of Activism,” adding that “it’s important to be aware of who we are as part of a larger global movement as well as individuals of the Utica College community.”
According to Varga, it’s important to have speakers talk about their work and organizations “because having somebody there who does the work, who is engaged on a daily basis with the organization, is an added value.”
Varga also highlighted that bringing speakers to campus also “offers an opportunity for students to ask questions and talk to somebody about what they do and ways that they can get involved.”
“It’s more personal because it’s no longer an amorphous organization, but it is a group of individuals that make a difference in the world through the work they do and who can speak to students about the impact that they make,” Varga added.
Mya Pope, a senior and programming intern for the WRC, worked to organize the event and to bring Kriksciun to talk to the campus community. Pope said that the WRC is “trying to reach out to the community to talk about topics like gender violence.”
“I think having Sarah Kriksciun is important, just to have someone who has worked for the organization, and basically just having a real-life model just to see what they do for the cause,” Pope said.
Pope also highlighted the fact that Kriksciun can also relate to students on a different level because “she was once in our shoes.”
“If she talks about something that we’re interested in and seeing her advocate for it, it helps us get inspired and think that if we want to, then that is something we can do,” she explained.
Rebecca Manning is an international studies major and a programming assistant for the WRC. She stated that domestic violence and violence against women have become “popular topics,” so “people think they know and understand the issues around these, but when you have events like this, it really highlights how deep the problem is, how much we are still learning and how much needs to be done.”
Manning, a junior, agreed with Varga in stating that gender violence “is an issue that affects everyone, even if you are a man and you have never experienced domestic violence, you know somebody who has, even if you don’t know it.”
“Unless we engage with these issues, we are not going to find any solutions,” Manning said.