FAMU students march against domestic violence

Wearing pink shirts and blowing whistles, about 60 Florida A&M students and staff marched across town to push for an end to domestic violence. 

They waved signs with slogans such as “Love Doesn’t Hit” and “Domestic Violence Isn’t Just a Woman’s Issue” as they walked from the “Set” to Florida State’s Turnbull Conference Center where two survivors of domestic violence shared their stories. September is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Director of FAMU Counseling Services Yolanda K.H. Bogan said she was really excited that students were willing to lend their time and voices to help curb abuse.

“It says that students are concerned about community and women’s issues,” Bogan said. 

Bogan praised the men in the crowd, who numbered about 10, for their presence, saying they demonstrated the importance of men stopping violence.

“It shows that they support women, and they are willing to do what it takes to move this issue forward,” Bogan said.

The 20-minute march across town saw students from different programs join FAMU’s Counseling Services, Women’s Center, Student Health Services and campus-based, anti-violence group SPEAK. 

A large number of the men who marched were members of FAMU’s Men of Strength, a group that works to end domestic violence by teaching men how to end conflict without violence and advocating fair treatment of women. 

Dougla-Khan Stancil, MOST co-facilitator, was one of the marchers.

“I’m here because it’s very important for us [as men] to understand the role we play in domestic violence,” Stancil said.

MOST member Cameron McFarland, 21, said sexual violence on college campuses is a big issue, and he was willing to do his part to champion the cause.

“Anything to help raise awareness, I’m down for it,” said McFarland, a junior biology education student from Hollywood, Fla. “[Walking] shows that it’s an issue; we’re not blind to it.”

Women who marched said they enjoyed being able to contribute to raising awareness and called it a unifying event for having 60-plus people walking together. 

“I think it was very empowering,” said peer counselor and political science student Mariah Williams, a senior from Pompano Beach, Fla.

The Women’s Center will host more events this school year under a three-year grant it received to promote women’s emotional and physical health, as well as doing HIV/AIDS outreach.

The Student Health Services Center is co-facilitating wellness initiatives such as Zumba, meditating sessions and the university’s bike-riding club.

Tanya Tatum, director of the heath services, lauded the turnout and commended the many marchers for their resolve in ending domestic violence.

“There are so many pink shirts there aren’t enough seats for them,” said Tatum. “I think it’s a big deal.”