More than just a goal

White Ribbon Campaign should surpass the 25 percent

By TNh Editorial Staff
On April 8, 2014

As the weather warms with April's arrival, many students have been taking to the outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and occasional sunshine. But along with the blue skies comes a month-long campaign that extends across campus - outdoors, online and hopefully in the lives of all men - and women - in Durham.

This month is the "White Ribbon Campaign" led by SHARPP, the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program, an initiative to encourage men to end violence against women as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The goal of the campaign this year is to have 25 percent of the male population at the university - students, faculty and staff - sign the pledge to "never commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women."

Just over a week into the month's campaign, just over 400 men have already signed the online pledge on SHARPP's website at the most recent count.

At this rate, the 25 percent is on par to be reached, bypassing last year's successful goal of 10 percent, with over 1,000 of 7,484 total men making the pledge last year.

There is no reason why this goal should not be met this year; increasing the goal for a campaign each year is a strong way to challenge the community to step up and achieve change. 

SHARPP's "White Ribbon Campaign" page on the organization's website states that "violence against women is a men's issue," which is not questioned. But this campaign, directed at men, deserves just as much attention and participation from women and deserves its  attention extended beyond April; conversation and various events throughout the month serve to extend the campaign beyond just a pledge.

Months of various awareness campaigns - breast cancer in October, sexual assault awareness in April, etc. - tend to come and go in a whirlwind of symbolizing colors. To truly be affective and create change, month-long campaigns need to raise awareness with such a strong impact that people cannot forget about them at month's end.

Those signing the pledge and participating in any campaign organized annually should be participating with the intentions of following through once the visual reminders of the campaign are no longer present.

In the month of April, it is much easier to speak against sexual assault and violence when white ribbons and teal pins serve as visual representations of the issue. However, people tend to focus on one specific issue only when confronted by it, allowing it to fall aside once the campaign is over.

This month, use the pledge and your time to consider the significance of the issue and the positive influence that can be imparted if the issues of sexual assault and violence against women are not spoken out against only again next April.

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