Students call attention to sexual violence at VIP Center event

By Dan Pauley | @KyKernel

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Students took up a voice against sexual violence by wearing jeans as they learned how to help stop violence on campus, in the community and around the world.

UK’s Violence Intervention Prevention Center hosted the Jeans for Justice program to help bring awareness of sexual violence to students at the Student Center on Friday.

“It is a day where we wear jeans to visibly demonstrate our support for survivors of violence and our intolerance of it,” said Grace Gorrell, an instructor in leadership studies at UK. “In 1999 the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape charge because the victim was wearing jeans.”

Gorrell and the VIP Center personnel saw students bear the cold weather and crowd the Student Center patio, wearing jeans in support of those who have been affected by sexual violence.

“We are here to show a message of support for people who have been affected by sexual assault,” said Melanie Matson, the director of the VIP Center. “We are also here to dispel any myths around sexual violence as well.”

Gorrell, who was the guest speaker at the event, took time to tell the crowd about UK’s Green Dot program and how it can help prevent violence on campus.

“I think many of us don’t step up to get involved in situations regarding violence because we are scared,” Gorrell said. “Scared that we won’t do the right thing or that we or the person will get hurt.”

Gorrell talked about how the Green Dot program helps give students options on ways they can help.

One of the ways that Gorrell discussed was becoming a leader to people in violent situations by becoming an influence on them.

“The only way we are going to be able to stop the violence that is going on around us to is that each of us has to be a ‘green dot’ and help get rid of the ‘red dots,’ the bad guys,” Gorrell said.

Everyone can relate to sexual violence, Matson said.

“So many people have been impacted by sexual violence,” Matson said. “We believe that everyone can have a part in ending it.”

Gorrell challenged the crowd to take action against sexual violence.

“Take time to pay attention to what is going on in the world around you,” Gorrell said. “Instead of ignoring, take one of the steps to take care of the people and communities that we love.”