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Saint Mary’s dedicates trees for victims of sexual violence, cancer

| Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), Stand Up to Cancer and Campus Ministry co-sponsored the dedication of two trees Tuesday evening in the Student Center Atrium to provide support for those affected by sexual violence, stalking, relationship violence and cancer.

Connie Adams, director of BAVO, said the idea for the tree dedication originally came from a student. She said the two goals of the service aligned with core tenants of BAVO’s mission of awareness and healing.

“[One goal is] to raise awareness of the issues of violence and abuse and their prevalence in our communities,” Adams said. “[The second] is to provide a space for healing for those who have been impacted to know that they aren’t alone and to break the silence which often surrounds these issues.”

Adams said the dedication of the two trees held important symbolism, as each tree represents different struggles. One is for victims of sexual violence, stalking and relationship violence, and the other is for victims of cancer, she said.

“Trees are a symbol of life and hope, both important aspects to an individual’s healing journey as well as our community’s commitment to prevent violence from happening,” Adams said.

Director of Campus Ministry Judy Fean said the trees would provide a visual sign of support for students.

“In the Student Center Atrium, they are in front of Mary, with the sign of living water to show there is hope and prayer in community,” Fean said.

Adams said the tree dedication combined different areas of campus life, BAVO, Stand Up to Cancer and Campus Ministry but united them in faith.

“While there are significant differences when understanding cancer and violence, hope and healing are common themes,” Adams said. “It is also common for individuals directly and indirectly impacted by cancer and violence to use their faith as a means of strength.”

The Student Center Atrium is an important location for the placement of the trees, Adams said.

“The placement of the trees in a prominent area on campus will increase visibility and allow more community members and visitors to participate,” Adams said.

Fean said the dedication service Tuesday night included three readings that highlighted the importance of peace and support.

“We gather in prayer to recognize God’s unconditional love and His healing power for all people,” Fean said. “The service [provided] a sense of peace and openness to be changed by God’s love.”

During the service, students were invited to tie ribbons onto the branches in remembrance of loved ones affected by sexual violence, stalking, relationship violence and cancer, Fean said.

Anyone who was unable to attend the service is still able to participate by tying a ribbon on either tree at his or her convenience, Adams said.

“I encourage students, faculty, staff and alumnae unable to attend the dedication [Tuesday] evening to visit this space and tie a ribbon on the respective tree for someone impacted by violence and/or cancer,” Adams said.

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

Contact Haleigh