SU students plant tulips to symbolize hope during Domestic Violence Awareness Month


SU students line up to the right of Stephanie Erdice, director of the Women’s Center, to read the inspirational messages they wrote on paper tulips to uplift and give hope to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Shovel in hand, Roneka Jones, intern at Shippensburg University’s Women’s Center, blanketed tulip bulbs with a layer of soil in the Jamie Fecker Garden by Lackhove Hall last Tuesday for SU’s annual tulip planting ceremony. 

The bulbs, which must endure the harshness of winter before breaking through the soil in beautiful bloom, symbolize endurance and hope for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

“They represent planting something but not being able to see the beauty of it for a long time,” said Stephanie Erdice, director of the SU Women’s Center. “And I think that is the situation for a lot of folks who have been in domestic violence situations, because there is hope for something better, but they cannot always tap into that hope right away.” 

In addition to planting tulips at the ceremony, students were encouraged to speak out in behalf of someone they knew who has dealt with domestic violence by writing strengthening words on a colorful paper tulip. In an anonymous note addressed to “all women,” one tulip read, “The mind of a woman is to be treasured not toyed with, the spirit is to be embraced not broken, and the body is to be loved not beaten.” 

These single messages then became a garden of inspirational flowers as they were pasted on a poster, so that all could read them and find hope. During the ceremony, several students banded together to hold the poster as speakers Jones, Erdice, Kim Mallory from Women in Need, United Campus’ the Rev. Jan Bye and students from SU’s Social Work and Gerontology Department shared a few uplifting words. 

The poster is now hung on display in Horton Hall outside of the Women’s Center (Rooms 132 and 133).

Students who did not attend the tulip planting ceremony can still stand in support of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on social media by participating in SU’s #ShipSaysNoMore photo contest. 

Ship Says No More began in 2013 as a public relations campaign to combat sexual assault on campus. It has since grown into a round-the-clock campus resource for advocacy, reporting and support after Gov. Tom Wolf awarded it a $27,000 state grant in 2016, according to an SU news release. 

Students and faculty can partake in the month-long contest by either taking a picture of themselves or a group of friends holding a Ship Says No More sign, which can be picked up in the Women’s Center. By taking a picture with the sign, participants are taking the “No More” pledge against domestic violence and sexual assault.

To be entered in the photo contest for a chance to win, the taken picture must then be posted on social media platforms using #ShipSaysNoMore or emailed to Winners will be selected on the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month — Oct. 31. 

“People that are affected by [domestic violence and sexual assault] who may not feel comfortable to speak out and say that they are, can hopefully find comfort in those who take the #ShipSaysNoMore pledge because it shows that they have a large support group, even if they don’t know it,” Jones said. “To see that you have an ally within students and organizations on campus, even if it is just behind-the-scenes, can be reassuring for many victims, and I think that that’s what students appreciate most about the Women’s Center.”

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