As the pulsing sounds of Tena Clark's special anthem "Break the Chain" reverberated from the first floor of the Reamer Campus Center, an army of dancers dressed primarily in red or pink quickly assembled in front of a packed Dutch Hollow.
For the next four minutes, this mix of more than two dozen students, faculty and staff staged a loosely choreographed number that brought the pedestrian routine of lunchtime to a halt for a cause.
While the dancers and the crowd that spilled over the rails of the second floor carried smiles and erupted in several bursts of applause, the message was serious: end violence against women and girls.
Thursday's scene in Reamer was part of a global campaign, One Billion Rising, staged as part of V-Day activities created by playwright Eve Ensler. With the United Nations estimating that one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime (or one billion), organizers encouraged participants to "walk out, dance, rise up and demand" an end to the violence.
The message took on even more poignancy with recent horrific headlines about the gang rape and death of a young woman in India, the gang rape of a teenager in Ohio and the shooting by the Taliban of the 15-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai for insisting girls be educated in Afghanistan.
"We are saying no to gender violence," said Shilpa Darivemula '13, moments after leading the group's dance. She, along with Suraiyah Abdul-Wahab '13, Diana Tettey '14 and Victoria Chee 13, organized Union's event. For the past week, they spent their nights polishing their dance moves and their days hanging posters about other events related to the cause, all in hopes of drumming up support for the campaign.
Judging by the size of those among the campus community who joined the dance line or turned out to cheer on the effort, the message got through.
"It's an important issue, and we are so excited to be able to bring awareness of it to people at Union," Darivemula said.
To learn more about One Billion Rising, click here.