Activist and founder of MensWork Rus Funk kicked off Dartmouth’s annual White Ribbon Campaign with an address Monday night, in which he said men have a responsibility to be an active part of the efforts to end violence against women.
“For so long we’ve allowed women to do all the work while we’ve sat on the sidelines,” Funk said.
This year, the White Ribbon Campaign will consist of six days of programming including guest speakers, discussions and social events.
In his talk, Funk asked audience members to turn to the person sitting next to them and describe their best sexual experience, eliciting laughter. When he asked them to imagine how they would feel if he had told them to describe their worst sexual experience to an armed police officer, the room fell silent.
Meaghan Haugh ’17 said she appreciated Funk’s perspective.
“It’s interesting that the speaker is a male encouraging males to change the culture,” Haugh said. “It’s different from the idea that women need to change the culture when they’re victims.”
Men’s Forum president Gustavo Ruiz Llopiz ’14, the campaign’s main organizer for the past three years, said he hoped the events would inspire community members to join the discussion on gender-based violence and help eradicate sexual violence.
Ruiz Llopiz re-introduced the White Ribbon Campaign to Dartmouth in fall 2011.
Throughout the campaign, Men’s Forum hopes to collect 1,000 White Ribbon pledges on campus. Two hundred students have already signed.
The events aim to balance theory and practice, and planned discussions include representations of masculinity, “slut shaming” and how to be an ally to the queer community.
“We want to encourage continued engagement, but also provide different levels of engagement,” he said.
“If you pledge that you’re going to wear at least your white ribbon T-shirt once a week, that’s huge and it doesn’t take much time, but it gives visibility to this vision. If any of these events inspire men to become involved with organizations like Mentors Against Violence or Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors and continue to have sustained engagement, all the better.”
Though the original focus of the White Ribbon campaign was for men to engage with men, everyone on campus is encouraged to engage with men on preventing gender-based violence, acting director for the Center for Gender and Student Engagement Kyle Ashlee said.
“I think oftentimes there’s a small group of men who are very vocal about that work, and there’s silent majority and I feel like they aren’t as well known so one of my goals for this week is to let campus know that majority does care and wants to end violence,” he said.
College President Phil Hanlon addressed sexual assault in his inaugural speech and has collaborated with the Committee on Sexual Assault and the Student Assembly to discuss prevention tactics, while head football coach Buddy Teevens encouraged the football team to attend Funk event’s and sign the White Ribbon pledge,
Most of the White Ribbon Campaign’s funding came from the Special Programs and Events Committee, with the Center for Gender and Student Engagement covering the rest. Alpha Deta fraternity helped sponsor poet Cameron Conaway’s campus visit.
Organizers will collect White Ribbon signatures and hand out T-shirts in Collis and Novack Cafe throughout the week. Men’s Forum, Women’s Forum and Collis After Dark will sponsor a mixer on Friday and the White Ribbon campaign will host a tailgate on Saturday.