By Clara Turnage
University of Mississippi
The University Police Department, Violence Intervention and Prevention Office and Rebels Against Sexual Assault are asking University of Mississippi students and campus members to stand up at 1 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 20) in silence to recognize survivors of interrelationship and sexual violence.
Participants are encouraged to take a selfie or group photo while taking a stand and to use the hashtag #itookastand and tag @OleMissPolice or @UMRasa on Instagram during the event, which is part of Purple Thursday, a national day of action against interrelationship and sexual violence.
Lt. Shayla Love McGuire, of the University Police Department, said that while planning events for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she wanted to create a new way for students to take part.
“Everybody always says, ‘Take a stand,'” McGuire said. “What if we asked everyone to literally stand up? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just stand up for a moment.”
The social media campaign allows anyone to participate and support survivors of interpersonal or sexual violence. McGuire and the Violence Intervention and Prevention Office planned for the online push to coincide with Purple Thursday, a national day of recognition that asks supporters to wear purple on Oct. 20.
“It’s easy and fun, but how empowering would it be for a silent survivor?” McGuire said. “You’re sitting in a crowded room and everyone around you stands up.”
The online push will open the door for survivors and supporters to start conversations about domestic and sexual violence, said Christin Dobbs, program manager for Violence Intervention and Prevention.
“It’s important to highlight these issues, specifically sexual assault and intimate partner violence,” Dobbs said. “If we don’t bring attention to it, there is no way to bring change to our community. We know these things do happen here, and we can’t ignore it.”
The VIP office is also running a survivor care kit drive, and supporters can donate items for care packages to the VIP office in either Hill Hall, Room 207, or Longstreet Hall, Room 309, and the UMatter Office in the Ole Miss Student Union, Suite H on the third floor.
The care packages – often containing small items such as fuzzy socks, cards, journals or pens – go to survivors who come forward and are a gesture to show that the university cares.