Women's Center plans flash mob

GVSU raises awareness of domestic and sexual violence

By Maddie Forshee | 2/9/14 7:47pm


Courtesy / West Michigan Rises

If you’ve ever wanted the chance to be a part of a flash mob, your dream can become a reality. On Friday, Feb. 14, Grand Valley State University will host “West Michigan Rises” — an event about becoming aware of and overcoming domestic and sexual violence against women.

“West Michigan Rises” is part of a larger phenomenon called “One Billion Rises,” which is a global call to raise awareness about the issue and a call to survivors to break the silence through art, dance, marches and other forms of expression.

Last year, one billion people in 207 countries rose together and danced to call an end to violence against women and girls. Last year was the first year that “One Billion Rising” took place internationally, and by the overwhelming positive response it received, it looks as though it will continue in the future.This is the first year that the event is happening under the name of “West Michigan Rises,” but last year, groups in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo hosted the dancing and took part in the event.

This year, “West Michigan Rises” is coming to Allendale. The event is sponsored by the Center for Women in Transition, GVSU Women’s Center, GVSU Eyes Wide Open, the Kent County Health Department, Girls Incorporated at the YWCA West Central Michigan, and the National Organization of Women – Grand Rapids.

“A lot of people ask: why dance? Dancing is an outward expression of yourself, and together, it’s an expression of standing together and rising together to overcome violence against women,” said Lesley Coghill, who works for the Center for Women in Transition.

The Center for Women in Transition is a domestic violence and sexual assault support organization in Holland that provides many different services for women and girls, as well as training programs for students and businesses on how to recognize and deal with domestic violence and sexual assault.

Coghill said that since “West Michigan Rises” was so successful last year, the event will most likely keep happening and will hopefully remain a collaborative effort.

Another of the event’s co-sponsors is Eyes Wide Open, an on-campus peer sexual assault support organization that aims to raise awareness to the students at GVSU through different programs such as presentations to freshmen and events like “Rock Against Rape,” which takes place in early April.

“What we really want is people to start talking about the violence happening against women. That’s a really important thing that ‘West Michigan Rises’ aims for,” said Emily Donahue, risk management chair for Eyes Wide Open.

There will be one last dance practice on the Allendale Campus on Feb. 11 in Mackinac Hall.

“West Michigan Rises” will consist of three different flash mob dance routines, weather permitting. The women will begin at noon in the Kirkhof Center, then move to the Connection at 1 p.m. and finally end at Kleiner at 2 p.m. The event will also host a reception that will take place in the Women’s Center in Kirkhof, and anyone can stop by to talk to the people who took part in the event. For more information, visit www.onebillionrising.org, facebook.com/WestMRISES or www.gvsu.edu/events.

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