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One Billion Rising Against Domestic Violence

By Manuel Guerrero
Students and Faculty Dancing

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) faculty and students drew awareness against domestic violence by taking part in the One Billion Rising campaign.

The Valentine’s Day celebration is known as the biggest global action to end violence against women and girls in the history of humankind, according to the One Billion Rising website. This year marked the 15th celebration of its kind.  It was organized by EMCC biology faculty Sandy Zetlan and Marsha Segerberg, and sociology faculty Olga Tsoudis.

“Today we empower women,” said Rachel Holmes, an education faculty member who participated in the event. Holmes knows it is important for events like this to be held on campus so students’ eyes may be opened to the difficulties that are going on around them.

“Even at the college age, a lot of times we are focused on our own lives and we forget what is going on around us,” said Holmes. “At EMCC we are not forgetting and our students aren’t forgetting.”

In addition to the One Billion Rising campaign, EMCC displayed The Clothesline Project and the Silent Witness Exhibit.  The Clothesline Project started in 1990 as a way to raise awareness about domestic violence through tee-shirts decorated with powerful messages about domestic violence strung on a clothesline.  The Silent Witness Exhibit uses red silhouettes of women and children mounted with true domestic violence stories to illustrate the horrors of domestic violence.

“The students’ job was to create a message against domestic violence using their own creativity and, of course, taking into consideration what they learned in the class,” said Rachel Holmes of her students who added to The Clothesline Project. There were also fundraisers and multiple guest speakers that each told stories or shared facts about domestic violence to help inform students.

Students and faculty also performed a dance that was choreographed by Debbie Allen, respected choreographer and film director, known for her work on the hit musical Fame. Allen choreographed the dance just for the One Billion Rising event, and EMCC faculty and students performed it every hour during the event.

“Women around the world learned it and (today) women around the world are learning it,” said Holmes. “The focus is to celebrate women, to stop abuse and send the message that it is not OK.”

The One Billion Rising event at EMCC only lasted one day, but it left an enduring impact on all students.  Holmes’ students took their efforts one step further by adopting a “casita” at the New Life Center, which they will maintain, and give new hope to women and their children affected by domestic violence.