The University of Texas-Pan American will be hosting "Stop the Violence! Empower Yourself!" - a variety of events about women's issues and sexual assault March 28-April 6 as part of Women's History Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The events are being held to educate, empower, and increase student awareness about issues pertaining to violence against women at UTPA and in the surrounding community.
"I think that these events are important because they give students the information that they need to take care of themselves physically, mentally, legally, and intellectually," said Dr. Jennifer Mata, assistant professor of History and Philosophy at UTPA. "Violence against women and men happens all the time and hopefully if students attend some of the events they can begin to take charge of their own lives and break the silence if they or someone that they know is in a violent or abusive situation."
The second annual Women's Health and Wellness Fair - "Every Woman is a Star" - will be held March 28 at the UTPA Ballroom from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
The fair will feature providers from a variety of backgrounds addressing a wide range of issues affecting women. Included will be those topics related to health, mental health, art, history, and other issues. Students will have the opportunity to interact with providers and to obtain information related to specific issues.
An opening ceremony to officially kick off the week of activities and announce the new Women's Studies minor will be held at the Library Auditorium, Room 130, March 29 from noon-1 p.m. "The Clothesline Project" also opens at the Chapel Lawn from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and continues each day through April 6. A memorial will be held in honor of Ellise "Lee" Davinroy, former assistant professor of English, at 3 p.m. in the second floor Library reception room.
The Clothesline Project is a visual display of shirts with graphic messages and illustrations that have been designed by women survivors of violence or by someone who knows a woman who has been killed. The purpose of the project is to increase awareness of the impact of violence against women, to celebrate women's strength to survive and to provide another avenue for women to courageously break the silence that often surrounds their experiences.
Throughout the week UTPA staff and faculty members will speak about various topics around campus. Judith Guetzow, coordinator of special projects for rehabilitative services, will present a session titled "Violence in the Gay Bisexual Lesbian and Transgender Community" March 29 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at COAS 310. Dr. William Beverly, assistant professor of social work, will talk about "Domestic Violence in the Rio Grande Valley" from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on March 30 at COAS 351. Patricia Koo, physician assistant for Student Health Services, will present a session titled "Protect Yourself" on March 31 from 9:45-10:45 a.m. at MAGC 1.206. Crystal Stewart, UTPA staff nurse, will conduct a workshop titled "Begin by Believing: A New Awareness of Sexual Assault" at SBSC 207 from 12:35-1:35 p.m. on April 5. Sargeant Delma Lopez from the UTPA Police Department, and Diana Cuellar from Mujeres Unidas, will present "Protect Yourself Against Stalking!: A Workshop" on April 6 at COAS 303 from noon-1 p.m.
Additionally, a "Community Forum" comprised of staff, faculty and community members and mock argument is set for 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., April 4 in the Student Union to connect the University community with the larger Rio Grande Valley community.
"Since most of our students are from the Valley or live here to attend school, it is important for them to know what their rights are and what to do if they are ever in a situation where they, or someone they know, face or experience some kind of violence or sexual assault," Mata said.
A "chalking" opportunity will be held at the campus walkway from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on April 5. Participants can draw outlines of women they know who have been killed by domestic violence to memorialize their life.
UTPA will celebrate "Take Back the Night" under the campus walkway April 5 at 6 p.m. This national event will offer students the chance to speak out against all violence against women by participating in a march and rally. Participants should meet at the Chapel Lawn.
Sponsors for the weeklong events include the Women's Studies Minor, Department of History and Philosophy, Women's Studies Advisory Board, Department of English, Office of Student Life and Transition Services, Student Health Services, College of Arts and Humanities, Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office, Public Relations Student Society of America, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan, SEIGE, Women's Studies Student Organization, Bacchus and Gamma, Mujeres Unidas, UTPA Police Department, Department of Rehabilitation and United Methodist Campus Ministry and Office of the Dean of Students-Office of Student Judicial Affairs.
"I think students should attend the events because even if they are not affected by these issues specifically, then someone in their life is," Mata said. "This can at least give them the information that they might need to make safe and critical choices."
For more information about "Stop the Violence! Empower Yourself," contact Mata at firstname.lastname@example.org or 956/381-2323.