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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI students dance to highlight violence against women worldwide

Media Contact: Elizabeth Rau, 401-874-2116

Event is part of One Billion Rising day in 195 countries

KINGSTON, Feb. 12, 2013 – Most celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolate, but what about a jig to mark the One Billion Rising day of action, highlighting violence against women.

URI students on Feb. 14 are encouraged to twist and shout at three booths on campus to call attention to the startling fact that one in three women is raped or beaten in her lifetime. With the world’s population at 7 billion, this adds up to 1 billion women and girls.

“This crucial event for our campus supports women victimized by sexual violence,’’ says Ashley Tennant, a URI senior and student intern at URI’s Peer Advocates, the campus group sponsoring the celebratory dance. “We also want to help prevent more violence against women. This day is truly inspiring. We hope students, faculty, and staff join us.’’

Two booths will be set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at URI’s Memorial Union. The other booth will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hope Commons dining hall. Students will also hand out information about sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

The URI project is part of a worldwide movement initiated by Eve Ensler, author of the enormously popular play “The Vagina Monologues.’’ Dance parties, rallies, and performances will be held on Feb. 14 throughout the United States, as well as 194 other countries in places as different as Britain and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ensler says the flash mob dance throughout the world will be a “feminist tsunami.’’ Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Yoko Ono, and other celebrities are expected to participate, along with poets, dancers, public officials, writers, and activists.

“When One Billion bodies rise and dance on February 14, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy, and shake the world into a new consciousness,’’ Ensler told the Huffington Post. “Dancing is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, and disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen at any time with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further.’’

URI students are encouraged to continue their global day of action at a Zumba exercise class from 6 to 6:45 p.m. at the Mackal Field House. Admission for “ZumbaLove’’ is $5. Members are free. Money will be donated to URI’s Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services.

To cap off the month’s activities, performances of “The Vagina Monologues’’ will be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 28, March 1, and March 2 in Edwards Auditorium. Tickets are $7 for students, and $10 for general admission. Proceeds also benefit Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services.

The play is co-sponsored by Peer Advocates; We’re Offering Women Wisdom, or W.O.W.W.; the Women’s Center; and the LGBTQ Center.

For more information about the dance and exercise class, please call Keith Labelle, assistant director of the Women’s Center, at 401-874-9293 or e-mail him at peerinfo@etal.uri.edu.