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Kappa Gamma Chi hosts annual week-long awareness campaign

by Eliza Florendo / Beacon Staff • April 4, 2012

Under dim Christmas lights and paper heart cutouts strung on the walls sat 12 round tables with Hershey’sKisses and artificial tea candles. Pieces of paper reading “The course of true love never did run smooth" and other quotes about love awaited a crowd of 68 performers and audience members.

Kappa Gamma Chi is Taking Back the Night differently this year—with a full dose of love. Partnered with Emerson Peace and Social Justice, Kappa hosted an open mic event, “Love Fest”, last Tuesday night in the Cabaret.

The Love Fest is part of a week-long series of events for Take Back The Night, a national campaign that raises awareness about domestic violence against women, according to Landry Allbright, a senior performing arts major and co-chair of Take Back The Night. Every year, Kappa Gamma Chi and Emerson host the week-long event in March to raise money for a women’s shelter in Boston, Casa Myrna Vazquez. This year included a discussion of women in the media, a self-defense program, a documentary, and a rendition of the “Vagina Monologues", personalized by Emerson students.

As opposed to the past 15 years, Take Back the Night 2012 focuses on a celebratory aspect, with one of their main messages of “how to love.” As co-chairs, Allbright and Wynn Harrison, a senior broadcast journalism major, were in charge of setting the mood for the week, which would stray away from a heavy tendency of discussing the negative aspects of domestic violence, Allbright said.

“We wanted to create a festival that was fun to go to and you got to see a lot of performances,” said Allbright.

Noteworthy, one of Emerson’s a cappella groups, opened The Love Fest by performing three songs  that followed the night’s theme of love and strength, including “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. The open mic hosted an array of nine acts in total.

Donnie Welch, a sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major and member of Emerson's slam poetry team, College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, performed a poem about the most romantic love story he had heard featured on a talk show. Following the theme of love, singers and songwriters performed covers of songs like "Cant Help Falling In Love With You".

Micah Schure, a sophomore communication studies major, performed an original song about someone drunkenly professing their love to a girl. Emerson Urban Dance Theatre, focusing on the positives of love, used the entire Cabaret as a stage, weaving between the audience and improvising a dance to "My Girl."

Although highlighting love and light-heartedness in nature, Jillian Doherty, a freshman performing arts major, closed the event with a personal account of her experience with sexual assault, encouraging other victims to speak up about their secret and learn to love again, ending the Love Fest with a powerful message.  

“I hope that by listening to my story, other people will say hey, I can do that too and tell their story,” Doherty said in an interview with the Beacon. In a college environment, sex is common, but often overlooked, according to Doherty. “I wanted to be very clear that sex that is not consensual is not okay.” After her reading, Doherty asked the audience to embrace her and reveal their secrets to her.

To find performers, Allbright and Harrison turned to their sisters and friends of the sorority, who had connections to organizations that allowed for a diverse showcase. Kappa’s co-sponsorship with Emerson Peace and Social Justice helped cover the finances of the event, according to Allbright.

The Love Fest and Take Back The Night’s string of events puts important issues that often go unnoticed at the forefront of our minds.

    “I think at Emerson we forget what it means to support something bigger than ourselves because we’re all so inner-focused and engaged only in ourselves, so I think what Kappa’s doing and Emerson’s support is really wonderful,” said Gabby Tassone, a senior print journalism major.

Take Back the Night taught Emerson students about the importance of speaking up for domestic violence and sexual assault.

“As a woman, I think it’s important to know that you have control over your body and what you and other people do with it,” said Amy Gutierrez, a junior WLP major. “It’s important to be strong and know that you’re in control no matter what.”