St. Lawrence University sparks change on campus

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Canton, N.Y.St. Lawrence University is a four year liberal arts university in the village of Canton, a rural, farming area of upstate New York near the border with Canada.  St. Lawrence is one of several institutions of higher education in St. Lawrence County, the others being: State University of New York (SUNY) Potsdam, SUNY Canton and Clarkson University.  One element that distinguishes St. Lawrence from the neighboring universities is the institutional and student support in addressing and ending sexual violence on campus.

Chris Morrin, Project Director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Grant to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus, oversees the sexual violence prevention efforts.  Upon arriving in Canton, I attended “Spark Change” a student production comprised of various student groups addressing sexual violence.  Through poetry, music, and multimedia, students shared their unity publicly standing against sexual violence.  One of the powerful pieces came at the end, when male-identified student athletes and one female-identified student, all dressed in white, spoke about the tragedy surrounding the death of 14 women at the École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989, a movement appeared in Canada of wearing the white ribbon to signify opposition to violence against women.  One of the athletes, with a flower in hand, commanding the empty stage, stood before the audience and briefly but poignantly spoke about the responsibility of men in ending violence.

The next two days were filled with meetings where I met with different grant partners, including administrators, judicial affairs officers, the director of campus safety, researchers/educators and students.  The site visit ended with a lunch where I met students that form part of MAASV (Male Athletes Against Sexual Violence).  The group’s president, a female third year student not engaged in university sports, treasurer/graduating senior, and the newly elected publicity chair shared their stories of how they became involved in the movement, the struggles they have faced in challenging social norms on campus and how they plan on carrying out what they have learned from each other into their lives post St. Lawrence.

Livia Rojas, MSSW, is the Training and Resource Coordinator in the Campus Program at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where she provides training and technical assistance to recipients of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Grant to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on college and university campuses across the United States and territories. Livia has eleven years of working to advance human rights and student organizing through practice and research.

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  • Nedia Caston January 3, 2011, 9:01 AM

    Hi, this goes out to all university’s and college campuses. My name is Nedia Caston, I’m a graduate of 2010 from Monroe College and a Domestic Violence Survivor. I’m also a singer and a voice against domestic violence. I recorded a song called “You Gotta Go Now” and that it explain’s about me being a victim of domestic violence in the worst way, and how I got away from my abusier. With a great deal of help and I hope by listening to my song on my webpage http://www.reverbnation.com/nediacaston that this will help enlighten women and men included that are going through domestic violence, so tell somebody, tell a friend. Let’s make this year at all university and college campuses a safe one and remember that love shouldn’t hurt pass it on. Thanks,
    Nedia Caston

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