This week UI will host the second annual Katy Benoit Safety Forum and Campus Safety Week.
The week consists of events for students, staff, faculty and community members to learn about power-based violence and how to prevent it. It is held in memory of Katy Benoit, a UI graduate student who was killed by Ernesto Bustamante, a UI professor.
The point of safety week is to remind everyone that Vandals take care of Vandals. The primary campaign is “I Got Your Back”. It’s important for everyone to remember that there is something you can do to stop violence in our community. It’s the small things that count.
Part of safety week is the bystander intervention program, Green Dot. Green Dot is a national movement and a belief that we should not tolerate violence and that it can be systematically reduced. If someone attends a Green Dot training, they vow to stand up against violence. They adopt it into their life. Green Dot gives people the tools and confidence to intervene in situations that could become violent or already are. It holds people accountable and is easy to integrate in everyday life.
The week is concluded with the empowering event Take Back the Night. There will be a guest speaker at the event and a march at dusk to protest violence. It is a very moving and emotional night that enables people to speak out against the violence they have experienced in their life. Take Back the Night is on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. in the Agriculture Science auditorium.
The increase of safety awareness really started with the murder of Katy Benoit. It only increased after the death of Joseph Wiederrick last year. The implementation of Green Dot could have played a role in the events leading up to the death of Joseph. There were a lot of opportunities for someone to do something, but no one did. It is easy to get caught up in what should have happened in any death in our community, but it’s crucial to be proactive after those negative situations and learn from them. Safety Week is about remembering our Vandal family and those we have lost.
Safety Week is an amazing week to be a Vandal. This campus is so open and welcoming to all, and this week only reminds us how supportive this community can be. But people have to attend these events. They have to learn and be aware of the things that happen on campus. This week is an essential part of how our campus can grow from these life altering events. How is our campus going to become a safer place for everyone? Safety week is the beginning of a safer UI.
Click here for a full schedule of Campus Safety Week Events.