Director of Belles Against Violence Office prepares to leave College
Colleen Zewe | Tuesday, January 30, 2018
After eight years directing the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), aiming to raise awareness about and prevent acts of violence and sexual assault, Connie Adams is leaving Saint Mary’s.
Adams accepted a position with Green Dot, a bystander intervention training program BAVO itself implements, according to an email vice president for student affairs Karen Johnson sent to the College community Jan. 24.
BAVO’s student volunteers reacted to the news with both pride in Adams’s new position and sadness about her departure, senior and member of BAVO Jessica Ladd said.
Ladd said Adams has served as a role model for her.
“She has been a visual representation of the kind of social worker I want to become,” Ladd said. “I admire her uplifting personality, her love for [Saint Mary’s] and the students and her dedication to the work she does.”
Ladd said Adams’ work in BAVO has involved counseling, conducting bystander intervention training, establishing awareness programming and the helping to organize the annual Take Back the Night event, in which members of the community march together in protest of sexual assault. Ladd said though the office will be different without Adams’s assistance, she and other student volunteers will have the opportunity to take on more leadership roles.
Senior and member of BAVO Katie Long said Adams is working hard to ensure a smooth transition when she leaves.
“She is working hard to get things done so that each of our committees can continue to function as normal throughout the semester,” she said. “At our training at the start of the semester, [we] talked with Connie about how our involvement in BAVO is going. … I think it was important to all of us to see that Connie is planning ahead and making changes so that we can be successful moving forward.”
BAVO Student Advisory Council (SAC) member and awareness and outreach chair senior Katherine Piscione said she and Connie bonded well this year, as the two of them met twice a week.
“I feel as though I could tell her anything,” Piscione said.
Long said BAVO plans awareness events throughout the school year, which range from being serious in subject to more relaxed.
“Some of my favorite BAVO events have been Take Back the Night and a spa night that we did to promote self-care,” Piscione said.
Ladd said the BAVO’s upcoming plans include hosting speaker and author Danielle McGuire and organizing events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Piscione said she admires Adams’ hard work in the office and sees her as a positive role model.
“She won’t stop until she has done absolutely everything she can for you and goes above and beyond with everything she does,” Piscione said.
Ladd said she thinks Adams’ replacement should also have an understanding of the culture and relationship among Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross College. Adams’s uplifting personality, Ladd said, made dealing with serious subject matter of sexual assault easier.
“She is compassionate and empathetic, so students are open to seeking her guidance and looking to her as a resource,” Ladd said.
Johnson’s email said the College will not dismantle BAVO, but instead search for a new director later in the spring.
“She set the program up in such a way that even when she’s gone, the office will still be able to help any student who needs it,” Piscione said.
Piscione said she would want Adams’ replacement to know that the bond at Saint Mary’s is tight, and the BAVO team is like family.
“I think [Adams’s] replacement needs to have the same dedication and loyalty to Saint Mary’s and it’s students that [Adams] has,” Piscione said. “That’s part of what makes [Adams] so great. [Her replacement] also needs to have a high level of compassion.”