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School of Public Health Students Raise Awareness about Violence Against Women

July 13, 2009

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SPH students present check to Equinox.

UAlbany School of Public Health students presented a check to Equinox after a week of activities focusing on violence against women as a public health issue. From left, John Havens-McColgan, Ernest Williams IV, Arielle Bernstein, Kathleen Magee (program director of Domestic Violence Services), Jaclyn DeChiro (program services coordinator of Domestic Violence Services) and Ian Feltman-Feinstein.

Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, had been to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Haiti, where rape was used as a tool of war, but it wasn't until she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo that she saw women so brutalized by sexual attacks by armed groups she called it femicide.

Last spring Arielle Bernstein, a graduate student at the School of Public Health (SPH), decided to address violence against women as a public health issue. She and about 20 other students raised more than $1,300 through a theater production performed for the V-Day Campaign.

The play -- A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer -- relates to V-Day and was specifically commissioned by Ensler.  The V-Day Campaign is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Ten percent of the funds were sent to the global beneficiary of the V-Day campaign programs serving women in the Congo.

"Interpersonal violence is often framed as an individual problem and rarely is discussed as a public health issue," said Bernstein, of Albany, N.Y, and a May 2010 candidate for graduation. "The primary goal (of the fund-raising) was to really build a sense of community where issues of violence against women and girls could be addressed without fear or shame and understood within the public health context."      

The event was one of the most successful student-organized events on the East Campus, according to Dr. Mary Applegate, associate dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Public Health. Ninety percent of the funds were donated to Equinox, a local organization that works with children, adults, and families in crisis or at risk of homelessness, substance abuse, or family violence.

Bernstein said Equinox is a "natural partner" for SPH students because it is adept at meeting the needs of the Albany-area community.

"Understanding the needs of their community and building relationships with the individuals in the community who are helping meet those needs is key to being a successful future public health professional," Bernstein said.

The Master of Public Health student and her organizing committee held bake sales, sought sponsorships from local businesses, and sold tickets to the performance of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer.

The production, involving students, faculty, and staff from the school, was part of V-Day 2009, a week-long series of meetings and talks by School of Public Health faculty and agency directors on violence as a public health issue. Public Health students were in communication with students on the main campus, who performed The Vagina Monologues.
    

 

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