Students raise awareness with Dead Day for Darfur

Thomas Celona

Students worked to raise awareness about the ongoing violence in Sudan by participating in Dead Day for Darfur on April 15. Students wore black and remained silent in order to represent the people who have been killed in the conflict in Darfur.

Villanova’s chapter of Students Taking Action Now Darfur organized the event.

Dead Day for Darfur was a Villanova-specific initiative developed and organized by junior Amy Richards.

The main goal of the event was to help the student body recognize the gravity of the Darfur genocide.

“I hope that many people at least realized the severity of the genocide by seeing students participating to any degree in the event,” said junior Beth Awalt, co-president of STAND.

In order to accomplish this, students who participated were encouraged to break their silence at the beginning of classes and at lunchtime to briefly explain to their classmates what they were doing and what is currently happening in Darfur before resuming their silence.

Awalt estimated that only around 10 students participated in the day’s event, but she said that she was still excited by the results of the small event and how it impacted other students.

Dead Day for Darfur was just one of several events this month organized by STAND to coincide with Genocide Prevention Month.

During April, incidents of genocide in three countries are remembered: Rwanda (April 7), Cambodia (April 17) and Armenia (April 24).

The month began with the panel discussion titled “Holy Week After the Holocaust” on April 1.

Georgetown’s Theresa Sanders and Villanova’s Timothy Brunk and Rabbi Alan Iser discussed the development of Holy Week liturgies in the post-Holocaust era.

This panel was followed by a Me to We Darfur NOW speaker who addressed the Villanova community on April 7.

Coinciding with Dead Day for Darfur, Sue Toton spoke on “Solidarity in Rwanda” on April 15 at 12:30 p.m., discussing peacebuilding efforts in the wake of the Rwandan genocide.

On the following day, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program screened the film “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” at 4 p.m. in the Connelly Cinema.

The event was co-sponsored by the African Studies Program, the Center for Peace and Justice Education and STAND.

Sally Scholz discussed the intertwined history of genocide, rape and war before the audience viewed the documentary.

“The movie was very powerful,” Awalt said. “It collected many stories from people who have been victims of rape, as well as soldiers who have raped women in the Congo.”

Awalt and sophomore Mike Rogers, co-president of STAND, then led a 40-minute discussion about the film, which Awalt said produced thought-provoking comments from students.

The last event to recognize Genocide Prevention Month will occur tonight. Eithar Abutah, a Sudanese lawyer and representative from the Darfur Alert Coalition, will discuss the laws in Sudan regarding rape and gender-based violence. The talk will occur at 7 p.m. in Bartley 1010.