Voices Against Violence Symposium
By Venetta Bronson
Bowie State University hosted The Voices Against Violence Symposium Oct. 29 in the Center for Learning and Technology to raise awareness on campus about domestic violence. The symposium included different representatives from across Prince George's County each sharing their personal experiences with domestic violence and the victims who have been affected by it.
The speakers included Cheryl Banks, who is a representative of the Sexual Assault Center at Prince George's County Hospital. She discussed the treatment available for those who have encountered domestic violence, specifically sexual violence such as rape and sexual assault, and how important it is for people who are witnesses to it to speak out.
"Domestic violence and sexual assault needs to be discussed because people are not aware of how prominent it is and how people are affected by it," Banks said. "It should be addressed not only on a local level but a national level."
Another representative who spoke at the symposium was Joseph Vess who is a part of the Men Can Stop Rape organization, which is aimed at educating young males about domestic violence specifically sexual assault, mainly rape. He addressed the issue of rape and how men had the ability to stop sexual violence and become allies of women to help defeat domestic violence rather than be known as the main cause of it. "Men's violence is not inevitable, men can be nonviolent" stated Vess. The Men Can Stop Rape organization also plans to begin a campus strength program at Bowie State, which is aimed at empowering Bowie's young men to be more proactive in stopping sexual violence.
Overall, the symposium raised much awareness about domestic violence and urged students to be more cautious and more proactive when it comes to abusive situations.
"I think people were more open to discuss the issues of domestic violence and this was real eye-opener for them," said Chrishana Heath, co-coordinator of the Voices Against Violence Symposium and a student at Bowie State. But it takes more than a conference to end violence, she added. "It takes all of us being able to step up and say, 'no this not right' and stop the cycle of violence."
The symposium comes two weeks after two Bowie State University students were arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault following an Oct. 14 incident that occurred on campus, university officials said.
Broadcast news reports referred to the incident as a confrontation between a group of students who attacked another student in front of his Haley Hall dormitory. The unidentified student told a reporter that he suffered injuries including a broken nose, fractured jaw and several broken teeth. The student said the attack occurred a few days after he had exchanged words with a female student he did not know.
In a campus-wide email, BSU Department of Public Safety Chief Ernest L. Waiters said the incident was not a random act of violence and that an investigation into the matter was continuing. He encouraged students not to take matters into their own hands, but when confronted with a problem to call campus police.