ISSUED: 12 October 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A new student organization at Shepherd University, Rising Leaders Objecting to Violence and promoting Equity (Rising LOVE), is hoping members of the community will join Shepherd students, faculty, and staff on Thursday, October 27, for a march and rally against violence.
Participants in Rams Rally for Respect will gather at 6 p.m. at the Student Center. They will march across campus to the Wellness Center holding signs and chanting. At the Wellness Center there will be a keynote speaker and information stations hosted by various organizations on campus and in the community. The keynote speaker will be Andrew Price, a graduate of Shepherd’s College Student Development and Administration master’s degree program and a residential learning coordinator at Virginia Tech. There will be information about preventing many forms of violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence, racial violence, and human trafficking.
Rising LOVE’s mission is to promote gender equity and respect by engaging students and the campus community to participate in events and actions that provide education and empowerment for the prevention of gender-based or sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination.
“Here at Shepherd we’re trying to encourage a shift in the culture from one where violence is normalized to one where respect is normalized,” said Annie Lewin, Shepherd’s Title IX and special projects coordinator, who is the advisor for Rising LOVE and is helping organize the event.
Molly Lovern, a biochemistry major from Bluefield, is director and co-founder of Rising LOVE. She said the event will highlight the importance of standing up to all kinds of violence and developing a culture of respect.
“We want people to feel empowered to stand up for those around them,” Lovern said. “We talk about bystander intervention and bystander empowerment. What that really means is making people feel educated and comfortable to speak up in situations that they don’t feel are right.”
Lovern said when she was shopping for a college one of the things that attracted her to Shepherd was the university’s emphasis on creating a safe, nonviolent environment.
“When I first visited in the summer, I saw something on a billboard about an event promoting coexistence,” Lovern said. “I felt immediately that this is a really inclusive place where there are not only students but also administrators and people on campus working to create an environment of respect.”
Tessa Chafin, a political science major from Morgantown and Rising LOVE’s social media director, is helping to organize Rams Rally for Respect because it addresses a cause she passionately believes in.
“With the community of violence that’s in America today, I just thought I should do what I can to ease that and lessen the impact,” Chafin said. “I feel like even if it is small and just in the community, it’s still an impact.”
For more information about Rams Rally for Respect, contact Lovern at email@example.com.
— 30 —