When an awareness month comes to an end…

The Pledge

The Pledge

By Erin Lovette-Colyer

Yesterday we took down “The Pledge”.  It saw a lot of action in October.  It began outside of the football team’s locker room, where it was signed by many members of the team.  It stood at the steps of Torero Stadium for the Homecoming game, where students, alumni and family signed on.  It made its way to Plaza Mayor for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event hosted by Alpha Chi Omega, where men stood in heels signing their names.  Finally, it sat itself down on the second floor of the SLP and challenged passersby to sign their names.  And sign they did!

Walking by “The Pledge” each morning made me feel good.  It reminded me that people care.  As I walked by, I saw the names of hundreds of people who pledged a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault and relationship violence.  They promised not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.

As someone who seems to do A LOT of awareness raising, I experience moments (particularly at the end of an “awareness month”) where I question whether or not what we’re doing is making a difference.  Will purple ribbons, key chains and socks* make a difference?  The answer… maybe.  We spend a lot of time in the Women’s Center talking about the issues people aren’t comfortable talking about.  Heck, we aren’t always comfortable talking about them!  But we keep talking.  We keep inviting others to talk, to engage in dialogue.

Successful awareness-raising turns into consciousness-raising.  When individuals are able to speak to their lived experiences and learn ways to challenge the system, that’s when we’re making a difference.  Purple ribbons, key chains and socks are important.  But I’ve come to learn that when an awareness month comes to an end… the real work begins.  Here’s to November!

*For those who were unable to attend – our football players rocked purple socks during the Homecoming game to raise awareness around domestic violence.

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