Rams ‘Rally for Respect’ calls for anti-violence towards minority groups
SHEPHERDSTOWN – “Whatever we are, wherever we go, ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘no'” was one of the many chants resounding from a group of a couple dozen Shepherd University students and professors, as they marched from King Street to Potomac Place on Shepherd’s campus on Oct. 3.
The group then gathered in a large circle to listen, as minority group representatives stepped into the middle of the circle to speak about the challenges they face and how students could join them in taking a stand against violence towards their groups.
“Today, we’re going to adjust our worldview and acknowledge the power of our shared history, by adjusting our definition of history. History, for us, is going to be an umbrella term,” said Associate Professor of Sociology Chiquita Howard-Bostic. “What happened in my history is valuable to you. What happened to me yesterday is real, even if you can’t see it. A lot of times, there are things that are actually happening that you can’t see, because they aren’t impacting you today.
“History is like glue – if you make a mistake in history, I’m going to be impacted by that mistake. If you learn from my mistakes and I learn from yours, we can make the world better together,” Howard-Bostic said. “If you treat history like glue, you will be connected with others’ histories.
“This event, “Ram’s Rally for Respect,” is all about that glue – respecting one another’s history. I want to challenge you to align your moral values with those of others, and I want you to have a worldview of what is happening around you,” Howard-Bostic said. “Your viewpoint is not the only viewpoint that matters. It doesn’t matter if their viewpoint contradicts what matters to you.”
The next speakers were representatives from the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center, Prevention Educator Mary Katherine Francisco and Program Manager Vivian Baylor.
“We work with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence – we really just impact our clients in any way that we can,” Francisco said, mentioning those who are afraid of getting help can find it at E.P.E.C. “There’s resources out there for them. There is a community that’s out there that will believe them.”
Students also spoke, representing a number of their campus organizations, including: the Social Justice Project, the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, Multicultural Student Affairs, Alianza, PAN – African Student Union, the Black Student Union, Global Shepherd Students, the Disability Advocacy Group and PB Crew.
According to event organizer and SU Intern for Social Equity, Inclusion and Title 9, Tessa Chafin, the event was one way she hopes to encourage political and social involvement in her fellow college students.
“We’re all in this together. With all of this power, we can achieve greatness,” Chafin said, before closing the event by leading attendees in a pledge to “not participate in or promote violence to another person.”