Surprise 'flash mob' raises sexual violence awareness
By Melissa Collins
A flash mob is when a group of people carry out an unusual or surprising act that the public is not expecting.
"The point of a flash mob is to draw attention to yourself or to bring an issue into awareness," said Steve Bialick, '10.
Flash mobs usually last a few minutes. However, Monday night's event only lasted 90 seconds.
"We chose that time because every 90 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted," said Kristen Mason, '10.
At exactly 8 p.m., the group collapsed to the ground all at the same time. The students who were studying in the library at the time were generally confused and surprised.
"I didn't really know what was going on," said Nicole Cilcco, '13. "It definitely grabbed people's attention."
Kyle Nagarkar, '12, was also caught off guard.
"I saw it all coming together as a demonstration of some sort, but it caught me by surprise," Nagarkar said. "They handed out papers, and I couldn't help but read it. There was a lot of stuff that I didn't know."
After watching the event take place, Brandon Feil, '10, thought it was successful.
"It was a lot more in your face," Feil said. "It's good that they are bringing it to the attention of the Lehigh community in a more public way."
The flash mob event was organized as a requirement for the new Women's Studies class "Sexual Violence," that is taught by Michelle Issadore, the assistant director of the Women's Center.
"I intended for the class to be a way to talk about sexual violence in an academic setting," Issadore said. "I saw the need for it, and wanted to address that."
The class is offered as an introduction to the Women's Studies program, and it is also a writing intensive optional course. The course addresses a variety of issues, including sexual violence as a gender crime, the media's portrayal of sexual violence, rape culture, rape drugs, rape trauma syndrome, domestic violence, stalking and harassment.
The members of the class were prompted to organize an event in order to promote awareness of sexual violence and chose to do a flash mob because it seemed like it might have a bigger impact on the community.
"We were given an assignment to create an activism project, and we had over 50 volunteers help," Mike Doherty, '10, said.
The group decided a flash mob would be the most effective way to raise awareness.
"It's more of a surprise thing," Bialick said.
"It's to promote awareness because people don't know about it, especially at Lehigh," Mason said.
Issadore said the students were very enthusiastic about the project.
"The students really wanted to raise awareness at Lehigh, make it educational and make an impact," Issadore said.
The students who acted in the flash mob were all wearing shirts that had statistics and other facts about sexual violence. During the flash mob, many students got up to walk around and read the words on the shirts.
"We wore the shirts we made to increase awareness," Katie Johnston, '12, said. "People heard about it and could see it too. We want to start these discussions about sexual violence because it doesn't get discussed, and it needs to."
The students who took part in the flash mob were from more than 10 different student groups and organizations, including the women's rugby team, Theta Chi fraternity, the Panhellenic Council, Break the Silence, Pi Beta Phi sorority and the Association of Student Alumni.
In order to keep the event's details low-key, the original eight members recruited people from their own social groups, amounting to over 55 participants.
"The whole point is to promote awareness of sexual violence, and not just at Lehigh, but all over the world," Bialick said.
When I saw this article, I couldn't help but think what would happen if every school across the nation took 90 seconds to raise awareness? So many people could be touched and inspired by Lehigh Univeristy's example. This event is such a great example that sexual assault awareness evens do not have to take a lot of time, and you do not even have to invite people ot attend. So step outside the box, and make a difference!