Cheers, chants and the music of cowbells filled the Durham streets as various member’s of sororities, fraternities, student organizations and faculty members joined together to support the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program’s (SHARPP) sixth annual Anti-Violence Rally and Walk last Thursday, April 14.
Students and faculty gathered on the lawn across from Congreve Hall at 12:30 p.m. United against violence, the participants paraded through campus equipped with cowbells as noisemakers to ensure that the sound of the walk would resonate around campus.
“The louder we are the more awareness we are spreading by making ourselves known and heard,” said SHARPP contributor Madison Lightfoot.
The rally had over 60 sponsors of organizations, including the Affirmative Action and Equity Office, the Catpack, the Waysmeet Center, the UNH and Durham police departments, Fraternity and Sorority life, ROTC and UNH’s Dunkin’ Donuts, just to name a few.
Alpha Xi Delta member Megan Zuliani attended the event for her second year in a row with her sorority.
“I’m glad to have an opportunity to spread awareness on an issue that doesn’t get much attention…Looking at the crowd this method is pretty effective because everyone sees you,” she said.
Lily Cragg, a member of Alpha Chi Omega, said that raising awareness about domestic violence is part of her sorority’s philanthropic efforts. “This is a big event for sorority girls, too many girls have been or know someone who [has] been touched inappropriately,” she said.
The national Alpha Chi Omega sorority has collectively made its philanthropy motto, “Love shouldn’t hurt,” in opposition to domestic violence.
Theta Chi members Pat Doyle and Nick Guidoboni, came to the rally representing their fraternity dressed head-to-toe in matching attire and each sporting their fraternity’s flag as a cape.
“It means a lot to support people, you know? We work a lot with SHARPP,” Doyle said, elaborating on how SHARPP has provided his fraternity with numerous educational resources concerning consent. “We want to show that we care as much as they care and show support in however we can.”
Prior to the walk there were two speakers. The first speaker was Senior
Vice Provost of Student Life and Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick, who got Wildcats roaring.
“I have seen how this violence can be to students…it’s destructive stuff…Sexual violence has no place on any American campus and has no place on UNH campus. Do you agree?” Kirkpatrick said.
He further amplified the cheers with his closing statement, “This is our house.”
Following Kirkpatrick, Ryan Grogan, the outgoing student body vice president and active member of SHARPP, gave a farewell speech saying that he is not finished with his works against violence, and will continue his efforts long after graduation.
“One day is not enough, we need to work everyday to help rid the problem. We’re not asking anyone to be a superhero; just to do his or her part,” Grogan said.
Grogan ended his speech with a quote by Ronald Reagan: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Unlike last year’s rainy rally, this year’s event featured magnificent weather.
Swarming through campus, the participants caught the attention of many campus bystanders who didn’t attend the rally. Students halted their pickup games to watch the rally and lend their cheers. Drivers tooted their horns to support the infectious Wildcat stampede.
Although many victims keep quiet about their history with domestic violence, one attendee of the rally, Mackenzie Brown, said she had encountered victims at UNH who had utilized SHARPP’s services.
“As a Williamson RA and member of SHARPP, I have met two victims who the organization has helped,” Brown said.
UNH graduate and Hetzel Hall Director Peter Wilkinson came to the event for his fourth year and noted the benefits of SHARPP and events like the Anti-Violence Walk and Rally.
“Victims can feel heard, supported, validated, and just don’t feel invisible, they know people care…I have had several students and even staff approach me about violence they have experienced,” he said.
In an attempt to take a page out of the SHARPP handbook, Wilkinson has started the “White Ribbon Campaign,” in Hetzel Hall, a movement in which men take a pledge opposing violence against women.
According to the Waysmeet Center’s Chaplain and Executive Director Larry Brickner-Wood, the rally was another success thanks to SHARPP’s, “…cutting edge research program which allows the campus to handle violence better than any other across the world by not victimizing the survivors but going beyond.”
“I hope one day we all can live in a world without violence, where no one is harmed,” said Brickner-Wood.