Strength In Speaking Out

Concerned About Rape Education (C.A.R.E.) Week is an annual wake-up call to the Boston College community regarding the local and global issue of sexual violence and abuse. The Women’s Resource Center (WRC), along with its co-sponsors have prepared a week of serious yet engaging events that incorporate these themes through everything from yoga to luncheons.

Due to the importance of the week on campus, the WRC begins planning the events months in advance. The C.A.R.E. Week planning committee is composed of several different offices and student groups to ensure that the events cater to a wide audience.

“The entire WRC staff and C.A.R.E. planning committee are incredibly invested in everything that C.A.R.E. Week stands for, and so we are striving to make sure that our passion for and commitment to preventing sexual violence come across in each event,” said Lauren Bly, C.A.R.E. Week co-leader and A&S ’15, in an email.

After months of careful planning, it is equally important to get the word out to the student body nearer to the beginning of the actual week. “The Women’s Resource Center has a publicity blitz on the Sunday before C.A.R.E. Week, and that is a time when volunteers and WRC staff can post all the flyers for the week and hang banners around campus,” Bly said. “We also have volunteers stationed at McElroy and Lower, so that they can hand out buttons, stickers, and the C.A.R.E. calendar.”

In addition, the WRC is employing social media publicity strategies to further promote the events. The WRC is asking students to use #ICARE to share the different programs with friends and download the Facebook-friendly CARE logo from its website to use as profile pictures or cover photos for the week.

The official start of C.A.R.E. Week was a healing Mass last night in the Heights Room celebrated by Rev. Jeremy Clarke, S.J. To kick off the programming portion of the week, today at 12 p.m. in McGuinn 334, the WRC and Bystander Intervention present “Man Up: What Does it mean to be a Man at BC?” a brand new event initiated by Joey Palomba, lead trainer for Bystander Intervention and A&S ’15.

The event will take the form of a casual luncheon with an all-male crowd. “We are expecting anywhere from 10 to 30 students,” Palomba said.

The goal of the event is to create a forum where males can talk about how they relate to the culture at BC. “The event will begin with a grad student speaker speech, and then one of the undergraduate leaders will pose a series of questions for the students to answer together,” Palomba said. “There’s a real emphasis on students talking to other students.”
Palomba does not intend for the conversation to stop after the Man Up event is over, however. “I spent a lot of the fall semester researching different male leadership groups on campus, and I want to use this new one to create a less formal setting for different members of all of the leadership groups,” he said.

Palomba plans to use the attendance at the Man Up event to determine an interest level for this potential, new organization. Currently, Palomba and a few other students have already successfully facilitated four meetings that follow a similar structure to the Man Up event, but they hope to expand with different chapters on different days of the week.
“I want to see if other males want to have a long-term involvement in this,” Palomba said. “So, if anyone is interested in continuing the conversation, keep an eye out in the future.”
To further extend the sentiments of Man Up and C.A.R.E. Week, Bystander Intervention has extended its deadline for leadership applications. “We will have tabling in the dining halls, Lyons, and the Quad to sort of extend C.A.R.E. Week to any interested students,” Palomba said.

Tomorrow at 4 p.m. in McGuinn 121, CEO and founder of Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS) Rachel Lloyd will be giving a lecture titled “Girls Like Us: The commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of girls in the U.S.,” to be followed by a question-and-answer session.

“We are incredibly excited to bring Rachel Lloyd’s expertise and experience to this year’s C.A.R.E. week program initiative,” said Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program Sharlene Hesse-Biber in an email.

Lloyd aims to share her experiences with the sex-trafficking industry in the hopes that her story will enlighten students on the global impact of this issue.

“She aims to uplift individuals and advocate for a transformative perspective at all levels of society, encouraging a perception of trafficking of young girls that moves beyond a framework of victimization toward one of empowerment,” Hesse-Biber said. “Her advocacy promotes the well-being of trafficked girls through education and social and economic support.”

Perhaps the most unconventional event planned for this week will take place on Wednesday at 12 p.m. in McElroy 237. The WRC’s BCPD Community Resource Officer Katrina Thompson will instruct Healing With Yoga, another new way the WRC attempts to include different student interests into the themes of the week.

“My students who don’t know me as a police officer will laugh in surprise when they meet me on my patrols as I explain that I’m a yogi by day and a patrolman by night, smiling and bowing to them, ‘it’s my yin and yang,'” Thompson said in an email.

Thompson hopes to bring her personal experiences to the yoga session. “As a survivor, advocate, sexual assault investigator, and avid yogini, I bring my daily practice off the mat and into my world as much as I possibly can,” she said.

Take Back the Night is the centerpiece of the week, and it will take place on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in O’Neill Plaza. “Take Back the Night is an internationally recognized event … which focuses on raising awareness about rape and sexual assault through the powerful stories of survivors,” said Jenny Phan, Care Week co-leader and LSOE ’14.

Historically, Take Back the Night attracts the most attendance for the week due to its focus on BC student stories. “We have advertised for speakers for Take Back the Night, but within the past few years, speakers have been very proactive about coming to our office and expressing their interest in speaking at the event,” Phan said. “Students who are interested in speaking at Take Back the Night have the opportunity to meet with our SANet [Sexual Assault Network] Graduate Assistant, who works very closely with survivors in preparation for Take Back the Night.”

Both Phan and Bly confirm the importance of this event in their own experiences during C.A.R.E. Week. “Attending Take Back the Night really solidified my passion for human rights and sexual violence prevention,” Bly said. “I think it’s a night that opens the BC community’s eyes to the fact that sexual assault and rape happen at BC.”

“I have to admit that Take Back the Night is an event that I look forward to every year-it brings me joy to see our community rally in support of these courageous survivors,” Phan said.

To end the week, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in McGuinn 121, the WRC, along with several other co-sponsors, presents Elizabeth Smart, perhaps the most high-profile speaker to lecture for this C.A.R.E. Week.

“Megan Sulciner, our president at the founding of our club, Science Club for Girls, envisioned this event to be an annual undertaking to promote collaboration between women’s clubs on campus,” said Cathy Guerrier, secretary for Science Club for Girls and A&S’ 14, in an email. “We had wonderful success our first year: the First Annual Women’s Collaboration in March 2013 featured Erin Brockovich, who spoke about perseverance.”

This year, Smart, who was abducted at knifepoint in 2002, will focus on perseverance during times of extreme adversity.

“Her speech not only tells her personal story, but also discusses topics such as overcoming extreme adversity, the importance and process of recovery, and not allowing your past to dictate your life’s future,” Guerrier said.

An event as large as this takes a full academic year’s worth of planning. Science Club for Girls began compiling a list of potential speakers early in the fall semester.

“Our advocacy officer … began speaking with these speakers’ representatives about quotes and availability,” Guerrier said. “Next, other Science Club members began reaching out to presidents of women’s clubs to gauge their interest in supporting the event.”

Like all of the events planned for C.A.R.E. Week, the Smart lecture will encourage BC students to consider their own role regarding sexual violence on campus.


About Kendra Kumor 28 Articles
Kendra Kumor was the Features Editor for The Heights in 2014.