Feb. 14 has dual significance for the Fordham community. The date commonly associated with Valentine’s Day is also known as V-Day, the date of the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Fordham’s Women’s Studies department and Women’s Empowerment group began V-Day celebrations on the Rose Hill campus with an event called Justice Is Care: Say Something Beautiful, which brought to light the issues impacting families and children in the Bronx today.
The free event, which was held in the Collins Auditorium on Feb. 14 from 11:30 a.m – 2 p.m., provided a platform for around 150 individuals from the university and the neighboring community to join in solidarity with the rest of the city. There were four formal speakers who attended the event, including writer and political figure Chirlane McCray, the wife of current NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and Eve Ensler, a prominent feminist and the writer of the popular play The Vagina Monologues, which covers several aspects of the feminine experience and inspired the V-Day movement. V-Day is currently celebrated in over 140 countries. V-Day is described on its website as “a movement of grassroots activists dedicated to generating broader attention and funds to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery.”
The event began with speeches from the four speakers on V-Day and its significance, which was followed by two drumming sessions led by a local high school student. In the last half hour of the event, audience members were encouraged to speak up about a time in which they were judged because of their gender. Both men and women participated in this portion of the event.
Fordham students were heavily involved in the planning and execution of Justice is Care: Say Something Beautiful. Wilmarie Cintron-Muñiz, FCRH ’15, director of The Vagina Monologues, served as a liason for the V-day organization.
“V-Day approached me about hosting the event on Fordham’s campus and I was quick to agree since I felt this would be an incredible opportunity for Fordham to open its gates to the community. This sentiment was almost immediately supported by the Women’s Studies Program and Dean Latham’s office.”
President of Mimes and Mummers, Emily Pandise, FCRH ’14, called the event “a once in a lifetime experience for Fordham.” She served as technical consultant and stage manager involved in the preparation process, the lights and sound and the breakdown and set up of the event.
Student contributor Christiana Shovlin, FCRH ’16, praised the work of her peers and the success of the event.
“Justice is Care: Say Something Beautiful was a wonderful example of the common ground that all people share regardless of the societal constraints, such as race, ethnicity, age and economic status, that tell us that we are different,” she said. “Traciana Graves and all the contributors of Project Bully Free Zone really have a hold of something unique and special that I know touched every person who went to the event.”
“It was such a treat to hear Chirlane McCray speak about Mayor de Blasio’s dedication to social reform and present Eve Ensler with his Proclamation of V-Day,” said Monica Sobrin, FCRH ’17. “Eve Ensler, of course, energized the room with her passion and zeal for achieving true justice for all. I couldn’t believe how many women around the world risked their lives to dance and participate in V-Day celebrations. It was also so humbling to hear everyone’s story of hope and encouragement.”
Dr. Judith Green, professor of philosophy and co-director of women’s studies at Fordham, who was the primary sponsor of the event, expressed her sentiments on how Justice Is Care impacted the Fordham community.
“Fordham University was chosen as the international center of this V-Day 2014 event because of our commitment to justice, our support of the V-Day organization that allows our students to perform The Vagina Monologues and the extremely high level of homelessness in the Bronx today,” Dr. Green said. “When she was leaving Collins Auditorium, Eve Ensler expressed her deep appreciation for Fordham’s hospitality and her desire to work with us on future projects. I was so proud to see Fordham act from our university mission as well as our hearts in welcoming her and our Bronx neighbors to campus on V-Day.”