Outside of Hicks, a cluster of red flags adds contrast to an otherwise muted landscape. Despite their bright color, these flags represent a dark topic: dating violence. These props, along with recently hung posters, are part of the campus’ Healthy Relationship Awareness Week, sponsored by the Counseling Center.
To help facilitate the event, the College purchased a planning kit from the Red Flag Campaign, a program that started in Virginia and has spread to campuses across the country. It aims to promote bystander awareness of dating violence, said Danielle Standish, Counseling Psychologist Training Director.
Relationships are one of the three most commonly discussed issues within the Counseling Center, said Standish. “I think there’s a lack of awareness that [relationships] are abusive,” she said. “It’s not necessarily physical abuse or out and out verbal abuse,” she added, citing instances of partners who demean their significant other in front of friends as an example of subtle abuse.
Professor of English Gail Griffin believes that this movement is crucial for campus health. “I think when people […] are aware of the dangers of unhealthy relationships they are much more likely to understand when it’s happening and to know how to avoid it,” she said.
“My big hope is that this happens every year,” Griffin said. “Every time someone does some programming on this issue they might save somebody’s life.”
In addition to the Red Flag Campaign, the Counseling Center is hosting several events in honor of the week. On Wednesday, there will be a Healthy Relationship Panel in Olmsted from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., touching on long distance, same sex, long term and interracial relationships. On Thursday, abuse survivor Lorraine Woodson will discuss her experiences in Olmsted at 7 p.m.