Some 40 students walked around campus with candles to symbolize their support for victims of gender-based violence in the eighth annual Light the Night event held by UTM Student Housing and Residence Life on Wednesday night.
Before the walk began at 7 p.m., volunteers could be seen preparing at Roy Ivor Hall and inviting passersby to talk about the issues or to join the walk later in the evening.
A Campus Police representative joined the walk, as did two students in the WalkSafer program. The two chairs of the event committee led the group while dons and other volunteers stood at various checkpoints and held posters bearing facts about the issue. Hot chocolate and cookies were handed out at the end of the walk.
The Residence Life Committee decided to forward the proceeds from their fundraising efforts, which included a canned food drive, to Interim Place, an organization created in 1981 that operates two emergency shelters for women and children in Mississauga.
“The important thing is to bring awareness about violence towards women and girls,” said a representative from Interim Place who attended the event. She added that the goal of events like this is to “create a society that will take these issues seriously”.
Arjan Banerjee, a third-year biology specialist and one of the volunteers, said that Light the Night was also intended to advertise the Green Dot campaign. The campaign, adopted at U of T last year and supported by Student Housing and Residence Life, Campus Police, and other campus organizations, focuses on encouraging bystanders to intervene and prevent violence.
“Look out for family members and loved ones,” said Jessica McGee, a third-year student who has volunteered at Light the Night for the last two years. “Sometimes it’s just about checking with somebody.”
Among the facts promoted during the event was the statistic that 3,000 women in Canada sleep in an emergency shelter daily to escape domestic violence.