Gravesites, shoes and armbands launched the fourth year of Guns ‘N Violence Awareness Week, sponsored by LINK, a volunteer organization that coordinates events and opportunities for students to volunteer throughout the community.
“We are trying to make people aware of how violence touches the campus and community and ways of how to prevent it,” said senior Jessi Rowen, president of LINK.
According to Earlisa Watkins, junior and service chair for LINK, the surge of recent crime alerts reinforces the need for awareness.
“The recent crimes on campus make everyone aware that they need to look out for themselves at all times,” Watkins said. “We actually have victims of crime on campus. It is evidence. It can happen to you.”
“I think more crimes on campus help make the week more appropriate,” Sara Grossman, senior, said. “It’s a city – people just have to be aware of what’s going on around them.”
The week provided discussions, a candlelight vigil and a documentary on youth violence. The campaign also included setting up gravesites across campus representing the most shocking acts of violence.
“I saw one at Eaton and thought it was a real grave,” Abdul Akbar, sophomore, said. “It got me thinking but it didn’t convince me, although I think guns shouldn’t be that accessible to kids.
“It kind of opened up my eyes to the things going on around here and in my home country Kuwait.”
Others don’t think the efforts are as effective as they should be.
“You think it’s about Halloween but then you realize it’s about gun awareness,” Nessa Maten, junior, said. “It doesn’t seem all that relevant – I’m sitting here in Coral Gables at a private university. I’m not all that concerned about being shot.”
Watkins hopes students will look beyond the shock factor of the shoes and gravesites and become motivated to be involved in violence prevention.
“I hope people would see what we’re presenting and would think of a solution and start a program for prevention, especially with youth,” Watkins said.
Another aspect of the campaign included displaying many different pairs of shoes with true stories of acts of violence. The shoes, which were collected during October from students and faculty, will be donated to the Miami Rescue Mission and Community Partnership for the Homeless at the end of the week.
Each day in the week represented different types of violence.
One of the most popular events was held on Monday and introduced violence awareness on campus through a discussion on violence and prevention led by Ken Lucas, Public Safety crime prevention coordinator.
In the wake of the numerous crime reports on campus, students expressed their concerns about staying safe on campus during the discussion.
Lucas reassured students that the numbers of patrols and security guards have increased on campus and also urged students to take advantage of the escort service and blue light phones on campus.
Ahmed Ahmed, freshman, feels that there should be better security on campus and that people should prepare themselves against attack.
“People should know what is a good time to go out and come in, Ahmed said. “They should take a self-defense class and get pepper spray.”
For more information, contact Link at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Butler Volunteer Services Center in UC 240, or call 305-284-GIVE to find out more information about upcoming volunteer events.
Marquita Bell can be reached at email@example.com.