My alma mater, Wheaton College, is a tiny (~1600 students) liberal arts college in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was living on the East Coast, most people hadn’t heard of it, so I’d give them the whole spiel – and that’s what I knew to expect from people. Here in Ohio (which is technically the East Coast but feels hella Midwest to me) I tend to get a different response from people…
Person: So where did you go to college?
Me: I went to Wheaton College, it’s a small school that you might not have heard–
Person: Oh, I know people who went there! In Illinois, right?
Me: Uh, no, mine’s in Massachusetts. There are two Wheaton Colleges, but they’re pretty different…
Person: *silently judging me bc my school is super liberal and not the conservative, Christian school that they thought it was*
So this is new!!!
As a Women’s and Gender Studies major at Wheaton College (MA), I was incredibly excited to be able to take the Violence Against Women course that is only offered every two years. It is taught by two amazing professors (one in the sociology department, the other in anthropology) who have basically made studying violence against women their life’s work. During the first half of the course, we read academic articles about the many different aspects within the overarching topic of violence against women. It is not an easy class to take, as the material is incredibly hard to read sometimes. However, the second half of the course is designed to make the students into activists that can make a difference on our campus. We are required to design a symposium week together as a class that aims to raise awareness about violence against women and the way it is manifested on Wheaton’s campus. Our symposium week (which is happening right now!) has included events about our school’s sexual misconduct policy, a visit from a local SANE nurse for our pre-health students, public art displays, and more.
For my group’s part of the symposium, we decided to make a video about healthy and unhealthy relationships. We surveyed the Wheaton community (students, faculty, and staff) and asked them to tell us about an experience from a healthy relationship and/or an experience from an unhealthy relationship. We received an overwhelming number of responses – half of which made us grin from ear to ear, and the other half which made us feel incredibly sad. We took these statements, edited them down, and chose about 30 healthy and 30 unhealthy statements to put in our video. We went around campus and asked students and staff to say these statements while we filmed them, with the understanding that these stories are not their own but that they represent anonymous experiences from the Wheaton community. The filming experience itself was powerful (for us and the actors) and we were all so grateful to the large numbers of students who were willing to participate in this project. I learned a lot about filming and how to use my camera in ways I hadn’t before, too. After many many MANY hours of editing (done by a group member and an awesome film student who volunteered to help, thanks Nico), we finally had our video.
We released it on YouTube on Sunday night, and by Monday night, we had over 1,000 views. The response from the Wheaton community and from those outside of it has been incredible! We are beyond happy with the final product and the story that it tells.
YOU deserve to be in a healthy, happy relationship, and our video can help you understand what that relationship can and should sound like. We have the power to change the narrative.
Please share the video so we can extend our reach throughout the Wheaton community and beyond. Thanks for reading! Margaret.