In honor of October's distinction as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Womyn's Action Coalition has brought the national Silent Witness program to Geneseo in the form of cut-out figures bearing stories of domestic violence around campus.
The program has been enacted at college campuses nationwide, but this is the first time Geneseo has participated. WAC president and senior Katherine McCarty first heard about it from Karen Tremer, the executive director of Chances & Changes, a non-for-profit organization serving victims of domestic violence in Livingston County.
Traditionally, the anonymous stories displayed are of victims who have died as a result of domestic violence, but WAC decided to use, with permission, twelve stories of old clients of Chances & Changes instead. The stories were originally compiled to be read aloud at the end of the Silent Walk last October, but, "it was so big and not a lot of people could hear or remember them," said McCarty. "This year, we wanted them to be around so people can read them at different times…I think it has a very different effect from the walk."
Several weeks ago, WAC began contacting academic departments to ask if they would consider hosting one of the figures, and those that responded first received the figures for the first rotation.
"I think anything that can bring awareness to the issue is a good thing," said Michele Feeley, secretary of the English department, which hosts one of the figures.
The wood was purchased with WAC funds, after which it was cut into shapes traced by McCarty off of the Silent Witness Web site. WAC members then spent about five hours painting and getting them ready.
McCarty hopes the project will be an annual one, and said the club will consider asking departments to offer a donation to Changes & Chances in exchange for a figure next year. In addition to the Silent Witness project, WAC will host the annual Take Back the Night event on Thursday, Oct. 25, which calls for action against sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. It will take place on Thursday, Oct. 25.