Photo courtesy of BCWC / Facebook

CARE Week Is Back, and It's Expanding the Conversation

On Sunday, April 10, CARE Week will make its well-awaited return to campus.

Put together each spring by the Boston College Women’s Center, the week is a collection of events in collaboration with a variety of other groups across campus. These events seek to educate students across campus about the issues of sexual violence, raise awareness, and provide healing opportunities and resources for survivors among us. CARE Week formerly stood for Concerned About Rape Education week, but the WC decided to drop the acronym this year to encompass more within the event.

“Rape is a word that’s falling out of discussion,” says Megan Kelly, CSOM ’17. “We wanted to broaden our scope. Rape—people may not always identify with that word.”

Kelly is one of eight undergraduate students that has been working tirelessly to put together CARE Week, alongside three graduate students and the two WC coordinators. Shedding the acronym is only a small part of the change that the staff has worked so hard to enact this year.

“I think we’re seeing a pretty significant change in CARE’s role on campus,” Kelly says of the way the event has evolved. Though the week's focus in the past was primarily to raise awareness and get people to realize that sexual violence is a present and relevant issue at BC, many students have now already been made aware of these facts. Therefore, a shift needed to be made in the types of discussions happening on campus.

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Photo courtesy of BCWC / Facebook

“It is talked about. And that’s awesome, and it’s been a long time coming.”

The introduction of compulsory Bystander Education training for all freshmen, which began last year, has been an important step in creating a more educated campus. With that awareness, CARE has the ability to shift to a discussion of how sexual violence impacts different groups, and how survivors can get the healing and resources they need.

This year’s CARE Week will also bring intersectionality further into the discussion. Kelly explains that feminism is frequently seen as a Western idea, nicknamed 'white feminism.' More recently, the WC has begun a discussion of how being a woman intersects with other identities, such as race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, to name a few. The issues are interconnected, and thus cannot fully be addressed alone.

“We try really hard in our center every year to push further and further away from that stereotype,” Kelly says of the idea of this mainstreamed 'white feminism.' The WC’s effort to bring intersectionality into the dialogue is not limited to CARE Week; it is a development they’re working to bring to all of their events.

Another noteworthy change to CARE Week is the addition of an event called: “A Long Walk Home: Story of A Rape Survivor.” The event is a multimedia performance of one woman’s experience on the journey of healing from sexual violence. Kelly's enthusiasm for the event, which has never before come to BC’s campus, is evident in her descriptions of it.

“I’m really excited to see it—it’s going to be really cool,” she says. “We’re really excited to have them here.”

In addition, though the performance is not necessarily about race, the performers are all women of color, an added dimension that Kelly thinks will help add a fresh voice to the discussion. The event is set to take place on Wednesday the 13 at 5:00 p.m. in Robsham Theater. There are no tickets or fees necessary to get into the event.

This new performance is not the only big event to take place next week, however. "Take Back the Night," which Kelly calls the cornerstone of CARE Week, will take place on Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. in O’Neill Plaza. The event, which saw roughly 500 attendees last year, is a time for student speakers to share their experience with sexual violence. This year there will be the added component of a march down to Lower Campus after the talks. The march will give the issue additional visibility, as well as demonstrate solidarity with the survivors who speak out.

“We want everyone to see it. We want everyone to know it’s happening, and that there’s a huge group of students that care.”

"In the Closet: Violence, the LGBTQ Community, & How We Can Help" is an event that will take place in Eagle’s Nest at 7:00 p.m. on Monday night. This is another discussion that will bring fresh perspectives to the issue of sexual violence and how different groups of people may experience it differently.

There are a variety of other important events that will take place over the course of the week, ranging from a panel with BC faculty to a CARE Week mass, and even a painting workshop that uses the arts as a form of healing (this event is the only one that requires an RSVP). A complete schedule of the week’s events can be found on the Boston College Women’s Center Facebook page under their Upcoming Events section.

Ideally, the various events will help work toward four overarching goals that Kelly defines for CARE Week: acknowledging survivors of sexual violence and their struggles, connecting survivors and their loved ones to resources, providing opportunities for healing, and further educating the student body. The week serves as a campus-wide movement of solidarity and education in reaction to a gross injustice.

The important functions CARE Week serves doesn’t mean that the week won’t be challenging. Kelly acknowledges that the week and the discussions that come along with it can certainly be difficult, especially to those who identify as survivors. But the tough discussions can also bring about education, awareness, solidarity, and healing for everyone who takes part.

The discussions of CARE Week may be challenging, but above all they are important and necessary to have as a campus community. So be sure to remember to show how you care in this upcoming week.

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