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TOP VIDEO: Courtesy of ASU University Communications

Above: ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock addresses participants in Tuesday's Walk for Awareness at Holmes Convocation Center. Anna Oakes | Watauga Democrat

Originally published: 2012-09-04 23:31:17
Last modified: 2012-09-05 18:27:00

ASU emphasizes safety, intervention

by Anna Oakes

Speakers at Appalachian State University’s 23rd annual Walk for Awareness observance Tuesday emphasized the importance of bystanders in the prevention of violence, calling on them to “say something.”

The official theme — “It’s Up to Me” — has been repeated throughout the annual “Safety Week” events at ASU, which also included a “Safety@appstate” resource fair on campus Wednesday.

The Walk for Awareness began in 1989 following the abduction and murder of university employee Jeni Gray. The walk serves as a reminder to campus and community members to be aware of their own safety and affirms participants’ commitment and responsibility to speak out against all forms of violence.

The walk began at Sanford Mall, where students gave a choral performance and Provost Lori Gonzalez addressed the assembly. Gonzalez said as human beings we often hesitate to intervene when we witness violent acts, but she urged the crowd to run through scenarios in their minds and imagine what they would do.

“One person’s failure to act can cause a chain reaction,” she said. “It also works in reverse. Your actions can save someone’s life forever.”

She encouraged attendees to make up their minds to always be present and mindful of their surroundings.

“We can change our campus culture, and taking care of each other every day will become part of our culture,” said Gonzalez. “This can happen. The numbers can come down. We can and we will make Appalachian and Boone safer.”

The procession marched from the mall to the Holmes Convocation Center, where the university screened a video featuring interviews of three individuals about their experiences as witnesses or victims of violence.

The event ended with remarks by Chancellor Ken Peacock, who said “it’s up to me” to create a campus environment that is as safe as possible.

“I do it because I care about you,” he said. “(But) I can’t do it alone. I need every one of you to take it seriously and make safety your top priority.”

During the march, one student carried a red flag, a symbol of ASU’s participation in the Red Flag Campaign. The public awareness campaign is designed to promote the prevention of dating violence on college campuses using a “bystander intervention” strategy, encouraging friends and other campus community members to “say something” when they see warning signs for dating violence in a friend’s relationship.

Earlier this year, ASU launched the Appalachian Cares webpage, a site with resources, information and updates about matters of student health and safety. Resources include phone numbers and website addresses related to reporting crimes, suicide prevention, sexual assault, mental health, counseling and more.

Students can text “APPCARES” to 50555 for easy mobile bookmarking of the site’s resources.

For more information, visit

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