Students dance to raise awareness

Several students from Seton Hill University (SHU) celebrated Valentine’s Day by producing a program and flash mob to bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence worldwide.

During the lunch hour on Feb. 14, a group of students, led by senior Farrah Felten, spontaneously burst into dance and song that concluded with members displaying signs with statistics of women’s violence.

“We knew that a flash mob would hold the attention of college students better than a presentation or a booth,” said Felten.

The flash mob was done on behalf of the One Billion Rising campaign. Worldwide, activists took part in these events.

“It blows my mind that we danced with millions of other people around the world; everywhere from Africa to Asia to Australia and Alaska and Brazil,” said Felten. “Before we danced, we talked about feeling connected with all of these women, and it was so inspiring and energizing to know that we were not alone, and that we were a part of something bigger–something greater than ourselves.”

“I am inspired by my students; these are exceptional individuals,” said Maureen Vissat, assistant professor of art. “It does not end with the Dancing though – we must continue to educate and stand together.”

In addition to the flashmob, Felten led students and faculty alike in a SHU community event, “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer.” Written and edited by American feminists and playwrights Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle, the show is meant to honor victims and raise awareness with related testimonies. The show is royalty-free in hopes that proceeds would benefit those who need it. The group at SHU decided take the money generated and donate it to the Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

“It was completely inspiring to hear the stories of women from around the world who are standing up and speaking out about the abuse they have dealt with throughout their lives,” said senior Regina Tvaruzek. “It was such a crazy and amazing feeling to be part of a world-wide movement.”

There were 16 actors of various SHU statuses that participated in the event, reading and animating the stories. “I couldn’t have asked for better, more passionate people to help me put this event together,” said Felten. “They wanted these stories to be heard, and they did just that.”

The concept formed after Vissat posted statistics and information on the SHU Feminist Facebook page for months. With the encouragement of Vissat, Denise Pullen and Kelly Van Aken, Felten put the ensemble together in a matter of two weeks.

“No one should have to go through this. Man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Atheist…no one. I want to help victims, “ said Felten.

Over 200 countries participated in the worldwide effort on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness and honor victims.

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