September 23, 2018 | ° F

Students scream to end gender violence

Photo by Cameron Stroud |

Participants gather for a campus-wide scream at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus to spread awareness against gender violence.

As the clock stroke 12 yesterday afternoon, students on campus raised their voices for all those who are often silenced.

The "Campus-Wide Scream to Raise Consciousness About Gender Violence" encouraged students — no matter where they were — to scream to raise awareness about abuse and discrimination.

Collective scream sessions were located at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus, various locations on Douglass campus and outside the Allison Road Classroom Building on Busch campus.

Although she had never heard of using a scream, which she considers the opposite of a moment of silence, as a means of activism, Volunteer Coordinator for the Women's Center Coalition Mary Ann Thomas came up with the idea at a Radigals meeting. She said the technique is more effective than other methods.

"I don't really feel like walkouts, moments of silence, protests and rallies fully bring to everyone's consciousness the fact that gender violence exists," she said. "A scream, to me, is a symbolic bodily representation of violence that occurs everywhere."

The scream was targeted toward anyone who has experienced some form of gender violence, Thomas said.

"We are not just looking at women as the sole group affected by gender violence," she said. "Any form of oppression against a disadvantaged minority is a form of gender violence, because that minority is being silenced the same way women have been silenced historically."

Thomas said the scream could be interpreted in a number of ways, such as of a victim crying for help while being attacked or an expression of pain and frustration one may feel because such injustices exist.

About 10 people, including Thomas, screamed outside the ARC building yesterday, and the College of Nursing senior was pleased with the turnout, especially given the event's limited publicity.

"A lot of people heard the screams — there were tons of people in the computer lab, there were tons of classes going on, there were tons of people coming off the bus," she said.

Although she was glad to see people come out and participate as screamers, Thomas expressed a concern about the lack of a response. While one friend expressed his concern for people's safety upon hearing screaming and others wanted to get involved, many students simply seemed puzzled or failed to react at all.

"I [believe] it was perceived with confusion, and I think the fact that people were screaming should inspire a sense of fear and confusion," Thomas said. "But … I did not see a mass reaction to that, and I think that is very symbolic of the fact that we do not react … when someone is screaming around us."

Too often, as demonstrated by the scream, people do not question the suffering of others and instead go about their daily lives, she said.

"We do not take the time to consider why … people are screaming, why people feel so moved that they need to disrupt the normal activities of life," Thomas said.

Kristina Jackson, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said she had seen signs around campus advertising the event but was not sure what its purpose was.

Still, Jackson thought the idea was a good one.

"It is always good to promote awareness, especially about issues that are taboo," she said.

Rutgers Business School sophomore Justin Kong heard screams from Voorhees Mall.

"I was in class, and I heard [screams] outside," Kong said. "It was an interesting concept."

Kong, who initially believed students were screaming in an effort to relieve stress, was surprised to learn there was an actual meaning behind students' shouts.

College of Nursing senior and Women's Center Coalition volunteer Laura Alexandro screamed outside the Ruth Adams Building on Douglass campus with fellow volunteer Christina Peteraf, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

"Instead of keeping the silence like we usually do, we wanted to make a greater statement," Alexandro said.

The mission of the scream was two-fold, she said.

"For women, [the message is that] there are other people. They hear you, they can talk with you, they can be there with you if you need it," Alexandro said. "Also, for those who commit gender violence, it is not going to go unheard."

Peteraf was glad to be able to take an active role with the scream.

"I think it is really cool that we are doing something rather than just keeping silent," she said. "Usually people do walkouts, [and] it is kind of dumb. They walk out of class and go to get lunch or something, but we are not doing that."

Peteraf expressed hope that the event would lead to the creation of open dialogue and promote a safe environment for those who feel threatened at the University.

"It is not all about gender violence for me," she said. "It is all about the conversations that are kept hidden from everybody and the conversations that need to be had in a University like this, and you are surrounded by strangers and you might feel unsafe."

Screamers and supporters convened in the Women's Center in the Douglass Campus Center last night to discuss the campus-wide scream. Additionally, attendees discussed how sexual assaults impact specific groups, like those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and people of color, as well as larger communities in general.

They also hosted an hour-long confidential session that allowed people to talk about personal experiences with abuse. At the end, participants screamed together.

The scream was co-sponsored by the Women's Center Coalition, Radigals, Latin American Womyn's Organization, Queering the Air, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Questioning People Union of Color at Rutgers University and West Indian Student Organization.

Colleen Roache

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