This post was written by Elena Goddard, fourth-semester songwriter, pianist, and music business/management student from Smithers, British Columbia. She is the executive coordinator of Berklee’s Student Government Association, chair of STAND, and a peer advisor.
(Continuation of Part 1. Read it here.)
When school started up in the fall, I invited fellow students to join the committee and help lead projects and campaigns within the initiative. I didn’t expect a huge turnout, and I guess it was because I underestimated how much this topic affects people. The first meeting brought new student faces and was filled with brilliant ideas and passion for this topic. The next meeting, those students brought more people. I had fellow Berklee peers emailing me saying they wanted to get involved but couldn’t make our weekly meeting times, so asked if they could instead join one of the projects.
We began planning an event called Twilight Induction. Our longterm vision for this event was to incorporate it into Orientation Week and show students that Berklee is a safe place for them to get help; it’s an open-minded place for them to be themselves, ask questions, and also show that they should help create an open environment. Even though we were in the middle of the semester, we held our first Twilight Induction, which consisted of speeches by members of P-Funk, some awesome mini-talks by students and faculty, lighting candles (fake ones; don’t worry, I wasn’t about to burn down Boston) that say “I stand because…” and writing our reasons down, and then reading through a list of codes of conduct we believe in at Berklee. This was followed by a performance of “Imagine”. Even though we had such a short timeframe in which to pull off the event, it was so well received and was awesome to be a part of.
The second main project of ours is a poster campaign called “I Stand Because…” The idea behind the project was to get students, faculty, and staff from Berklee to take a photo of themselves holding a sign that says, “I Stand Because…” with their reason for taking a stance against sexual assault on college campuses. The pictures would be posted to social media pages and in the future they would be printed out and made into large posters to go around the college. Through our weekly meetings, I was discovering how many leaders (both students and teachers) were passionate about this topic, yet didn’t have an outlet to express it. This poster campaign will raise awareness about the issue around our campus, while also showing students that others believe in this need for a culture change as well.
As we began developing more and more projects, the executive committee of student government was asked to present STAND to Berklee’s Board of Trustees. After lots of planning about presentation topics and methods—and me telling the other three guys on the executive committee to dress fancy for the event or else—I finally asked those involved in our committee what STAND meant to them, and if it was actually making a difference in their lives.
Here’s a response by one of my fellow Berklee students that she’s allowed me to share:
“STAND is so near and dear to my heart largely because of my own experience dealing with domestic violence. It gives me an outlet to openly share my thoughts on how to make Berklee systems more thorough, more transparent, and most importantly, more proactive. It’s amazing to go to meetings and feel like there are strong and beautiful individuals surrounding you. It is a safe place to share stories as well as brainstorm on how to create a safer Berklee, which of course is the main priority.
After everything I went through in the beginning of the year, STAND is one of the most prominent reasons I was able to stabilize, realize I am not alone in this, and essentially get a better grip on my healing process. It gives me the strength I so desperately needed in the beginning of this semester.”
The responses I received made me realize that this initiative isn’t simply something we’re doing as student government to help follow codes of conduct or fix Berklee’s image. STAND is here to help each individual; whether it’s helping with a healing process, an outlet for them to assist others, or an outlet for them to share their thoughts on the issues. Being part of an initiative that makes a difference in students’ lives is what keeps me motivated to do more work around this issue and continue my contribution to strengthening the Berklee community.
Berklee Page: www.berklee.edu/STAND
It’s On Us: itsonus.org/
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