by Natalie Rand
The soft glow of incandescent candles illuminated the Cistern Yard on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, as students gathered to honor and recognize the many victims of senseless violence. The No Violence Day Candlelight Vigil brought a diverse assembly of survivors and supporters to raise awareness of interpersonal crime.
Charlane Marie Dwight, the victim assistance provider for the College’s Office of Victim Services and the program coordinator for the SCOPE (Safe Campus Outreach, Prevention and Education) peer team, says the annual tradition of a vigil began nine years ago as a way to call attention to crimes such as sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking. In 2015 the vigil honored the victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting, which occurred just a few blocks from campus. That year the event brought together President Glenn F. McConnell ’69, members of the Black Student Union and the Student Government Association to mark the important and solemn occasion.
“This event is meaningful because it’s about bridging with allies,” says Dwight.
And this year’s event took on new importance because the SCOPE program is led by the group’s first-ever male student coordinator.
“This year SCOPE is led by a male coordinator, which is a big step,” Dwight says. “We need people to know that it’s not us versus them, but it is an avenue for alliance. Males are needed for awareness and action in order to tackle this tough issue.”
During Thursday’s vigil, Dwight stressed the importance of having a variety of services available for students on campus, and the importance of having a campus community that is involved in the prevention of violence and sexual assault. Some students also shared their personal struggles with interpersonal violence, including two female students who received a standing ovation after taking to the podium to talk about their journeys from victims to survivors.
As the evening came to an end, Chakeem Blake, SCOPE’s student coordinator, offered a closing statement that focused on the fact that violence should be a unifying cause.
“This affects men and women,” says Blake. “It’s not just a women’s issue. It is everybody’s issue.”
Featured photo by Kaylin Foard.