The VPVA will 'Turn the Campus Purple' this week in lead-up to Joe Biden's appearance
Throughout the week, students can attend a candlelight vigil, a performance by SCREAM Theater, a sidewalk chalk event and more
Today represents the launch of "Turn the Campus Purple," a week-long campaign hosted by the Rutgers University Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) to raise awareness about dating and domestic violence.
Notably, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.
In addition to the widely-anticipated “It’s On Us” rally with former Vice President Joe Biden this Thursday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. at the College Avenue Student Center, several other events will be taking place this week in coordination with multiple on-campus offices and organizations, including the dining halls, Residence Life and The Center for Social Justice Education.
The goal of the "Turn the Campus Purple" campaign is “to turn our physical and personal space purple to connect us as a community that will not tolerate violence and abuse,” according to a campaign flyer.
The campaign seeks to make a statement that the community will “work together to support survivors, help prevent acts of abuse and violence as positive, active bystanders.” A detailed schedule of events is available on the event Facebook page.
Tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Lucy Stone Hall auditorium on the Livingston campus, SCREAM Theater will display a unique performance entitled “How Can I Help?”
The first 100 students to attend will receive the new “I Support. I Prevent. I Speak.” T-shirt.
This SCREAM performance, which will include content specific to this week, aims to educate about warning signs for abusive behavior in dating relationships, and how bystanders can help, said Loren Linscott, director of VPVA.
“The main message is ‘Do you know somebody that you care about that you think is in an abusive dating relationship, or have you questioned whether or not your partner is abusive?’” he said.
Bystander intervention is particularly critical at Rutgers University, Linscott said, referencing a recent study from the School of Social Work which indicated that a Rutgers student is most likely to tell another student about an incident of interpersonal violence.
According to the survey, one in five of all Rutgers undergraduate students has had another Rutgers student tell them that they had experienced sexual violence.
“Because we know that, we want to make sure that Rutgers students are capable of being supportive and not judgemental or victim-blaming," Linscott said.
The purpose of this performance, and the entire campaign, he said, is to equip students with the tools to be effective bystanders.
SCREAM Theater, which is a component of VPVA and serves as its main prevention strategy, began in 1991 as a response to the University president’s requirement that every incoming first-year student participate in a program on sexual assault, according to the VPVA website.
To this day, every Rutgers orientation includes a SCREAM Theater program.
“(SCREAM Theater) is research-based. It has been evaluated and has shown to have an impact on people who participate,” Linscott said.
He emphasized that this performance will also make a special effort for the people and situations depicted in the scenarios as accessible as possible to every student.
“There are 400 seats in the Lucy Stone Hall auditorium,” Linscott said. “And I would love to see every seat filled.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m at the Brower Steps on the College Avenue campus, VPVA will also be holding a candlelight vigil, he said, which will be a gathering where students can come out and hear people’s stories and offer support.
This event focuses less on prevention and more on awareness and survivor support, he said. Interested students may stop by the VPVA office at 3 Bartlett St. near the College Avenue Student Center to pick up electric purple candles to bring to the event.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., students can participate in a "CHALK THE BLOCK" event at the Livingston Courtyard on the Livingston campus.
“People can use chalk to decorate the courtyard as another way to raise awareness about dating violence,” Linscott said.
Similar to the "Clothesline" Project held last month, where students could decorate t-shirts with their experiences as victims or bystanders to interpersonal violence, participants have the option to either observe or to be active and engage in a conversation. Linscott noted that VPVA staff will also be present if students want to talk about their experiences.
Also taking place on Wednesday is a lecture by actress, comedian and video blogger Franchesca Ramsey.
The event, which is in recognition of Ally Week, is presented by the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) and sponsored by the Center for Social Justice Education.
It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Multipurpose room of the College Avenue Student Center, according to the event Facebook page.
“The point is that everywhere you go for the week, we’re demonstrating as a community that we take this very seriously and want to support survivors as well as be engaged in how to do prevention work,” Linscott said.
Addressing the “It’s on Us” rally this Thursday, Linscott emphasized the necessity for universities and other institutions to lead the way in sexual violence prevention and education, particularly now that it is not a priority of the current presidential administration.
The ultimate purpose of "Turn the Campus Purple," Linscott said, is to create a community culture of intolerance toward sexual violence that students can take with them when they graduate from Rutgers.
“We take this seriously here,” he said. “And we’re willing to do something about it. We’re laying out all these different ways for students to have healthy relationships and to be active bystanders.”
Christina Gaudino is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore student majoring in public policy. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum.