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Opinion

Student-created ‘Rise Up’ advocates women’s rights

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October 15, 2009

There’s a repeating occurrence that always struck me as strictly college since freshman year: those lovely free condom tables in the University Center.

The high school I graduated and fled from was not only very small, but very conservative. I frankly don’t recall ever having an official “sex ed.” class, although one good-hearted home economics teacher snuck in a few facts between the stitches.

College was a breath of fresh air on many levels. Since my first encounter with the free condom tables, I’ve grown used to their frequent visits in the University Center and look upon them-as a much needed asset for a university campus. Yet there’s so much more to those beloved tables: the student organizations that help put them on. One organization in particular, Rise Up for Women’s Rights, is doing quite a lot more this year than merely provide condoms. 

Rise Up for Women’s Rights is a rather new student organization at UWRF, getting its start in May 2008 by two proactive students, Tracey Pollock and Nikki Shonoiki. “Rise Up’s mission is to advocate for women’s rights while educating the campus about reproductive health, body image, and domestic and sexual violence,” states Shonoiki. Rise Up hosts several events throughout the year to carry out this mission, including Take Back the Night and The Clothes Line Project.

The coming week of Oct. 19-23 will host the anticipated Week of Action. All five days are filled with activities including the cleverly-named Sextival on Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Center. Rise Up even has prizes and free stuff-FREE STUFF-in store for all Sextival goers. Peppered throughout the week are speakers, information tables, free t-shirt making with free snacks, a Green Information Fair, and voter registration. On Friday, to finish off the Week of Action, is the 350 Demonstration from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the UC Falcon’s Nest. We can all agree that UWRF is an environmentally friendly campus, and the 350 Demonstration is right at home here.

Curious about the number? I’ll let Ms. Shonoiki explain. “350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. Currently the world is at 390 ppm.” Math was never my strong point, but I have a feeling the world should tap the brake a bit. On Oct. 24 groups scattered around the globe will be demonstrating this valuable number in a variety of creative ways. Photos from these events (including the UWRF demonstration) will be broadcast live in Times Square and sent in as a massive photo petition to the White House and United Nations asking for action to be taken globally to reduce emissions in the atmosphere. This is a phenomenal opportunity to support a worthwhile cause—get involved with it!

Rise Up has a Facebook group, “Rise Up for Women’s Rights,” where they are always welcoming new members. The organization also meets in Room 334 in the UC every Thursday at 5 p.m. Next time you happen to pass a free condom table, don’t just snatch the little package and candy and scamper away. Chat with the student sitting there and learn more about organizations such as Rise Up and thank them for caring about not only your health, but the health of the world.

<b>Laura Krawczyk</b> is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.