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BAVO/SGA picnic kicks off semester

Abby Forney and Caitlin Housley | Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Students gathered to decorate t-shirts, make crafts and speak out about violence at the Saint Mary’s College Belle’s Against Violence Office (BAVO) and Student Government Association (SGA) kick-off event Tuesday.

The event, themed “Because You’re Worth It,” focused on reaching students through food and activities, and reinforced BAVO’s connection with the SGA.

Angela Berra, student chair of the BAVO event, said the committee wanted to tackle a heavy topic while still having fun.

“[The] goal for the kick-off event was to bring the Belles Against Violence Office and our passion to raise awareness about the issues of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking to the Saint Mary’s community in a different and fun way.”

With a DJ blaring empowering songs like Katy Perry’s “Firework” and a modern re-mixed version of “Hit the Road, Jack,” the event was hard to miss. As part of the awareness initiatives, a clothesline draped with shirts hung between two trees. One shirt said, “Fall Back on Your SMC Sisters: You Are Not Alone.”

First year Madeline Havrilla and sophomore Kira Terrill decorated t-shirts for the clothesline project to show their respect for victims of violence.

“We stumbled out onto it here, and it looked like fun,” Havrilla said.

Other activities included a photo booth, yoga, craft projects and a barbeque.

Senior Anabel Castaneda said the event was an important step in increasing awareness.

“Not a lot of people are aware of these injustices, or they don’t want to admit that it happens here on campus,” she said. “We live in a bubble, but we’re coming together as a community.”

Students involved with BAVO spoke about the different activities the office sponsors throughout the year, including the Clothesline Project, SAFE self-defense classes and Green Dot, a class on violence intervention.

Senior Bridget Gartenmayer said she was happy to see BAVO and SGA reaching out to the community so early.

“The BAVO/SGA picnic was a fantastic way to gather the entire Saint Mary’s community to teach about both BAVO and SGA services,” she said. “Both offices offer many helpful resources for students. Many students are unaware of the significant help BAVO and SGA can provide students, so it’s great that they are spreading the word early.”

Gartenmayer’s reaction was just what Berra was looking for.

“[I] hope that students will take away the knowledge of the BAVO office and our services offered,” she said. “We also want everyone to know that even though we cover some controversial topics, we can do it in a fun and exciting way. We are a great resource on campus and are willing to help.”