Performing Arts to Highlight Gender Equality Programming at Frostburg State University PDF Print E-mail
Wellness - Wellness
Written by FSU News and Media Services   
Friday, 04 November 2016 12:27

A robust series of arts-centered programs focusing on unity, respect and equal rights will kick off in November, as part of an initiative by the Frostburg State University Office of Gender Equality.

“Students want to have more of a voice in learning how to be effective allies in gender-based violence and harassment. We felt the arts is an effective vehicle to do so,” said April Baer, deputy Title IX coordinator in the FSU Office of Gender Equality. “It’s an engaging conversation they get to process.”

The programming is made possible through a $10,000 grant awarded by the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene’s Center for Injury and Sexual Assault Prevention.

“Music With a Bystander Message”

A special program, “Music With a Bystander Message,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the Lane University Center Atkinson Room (232) where several campus organizations will partner with recording artist The Billies. The workshop is free and open to the public.

The Billies are Chrisie Santoni and Craig Smith. The duo holds “Music With a Bystander Message” workshops at colleges across the nation. Santoni has co-written with Lindy Robbins hits for Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, One Direction and others.

At this workshop, more than 50 students will join with The Billies to write and produce an original song that will focus on the importance of bystander intervention in sexual assault or discrimination situations. FSU students will be taught how to have confidence so they can successfully intervene to prevent or stop sexual assault and harassment.

“We’re really focusing on ways students can help each other out,” Baer said. FSU has an amnesty policy where bystanders will be forgiven if they are under the influence if they safely intervening to stop sexual assault and harassment.

The experience will include recording the performance and workshop to be part of a music video. The song will be recorded and broadcast on FSU-TV3, WFWM and shared with other media outlets.

Music fraternities Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity as well as peer educators from the BURG Peer Education Network are co-hosting the workshop.

Social Justice Theatre

FSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance will host a series of interactive productions exploring topics related to gender-based harassment and violence through theatre.

Students in the workshops will choose topics relevant to the students and interpret how the different people in the scenarios would react and feel by acting it out.

“As a theater artist, this is what I’m most passionate about,” said FSU Costume Shop Supervisor Michele Labar, who will lead Social Justice Theatre. “This gives people a voice who don’t normally have a voice.”

The productions are based on Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed,” which provides a framework on how to use improvisational games to give power to people who are at a disadvantage – whether perceived or real – in society.

“We will use improv games to help students explore these issues from an objective standpoint,” Labar said.

The students involved are not expected to be performers to give an authentic experience. Theatre and Dance students will be trained to guide the participants through the improvisational games.

“This is not a performance. There is no audience, no pressure,” Labar said. “This is a safe place to explore where there is no judging one another in that room.”

Dates and times for the workshops will be announced soon.

Relating, Dating and Communicating

First-year students are being trained annually in Introduction to Higher Education orientation classes on what healthy relationships are and what defines consent.

These special Relating, Dating and Communicating workshops in the courses are led by trained facilitators through the Office of Gender Equality. Students should be able to grow their understanding of verbal and non-verbal consent.

The 2016 workshops wrapped up earlier this month, where students could complete pledge cards about standing up to sexual assault and harassment.

A visual display of select pledges written by students will be unveiled in April 2017 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. More information about the display will be announced at a later date.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.

Please register or login to add your comments to this article.

What's Happening?