Students hang origami butterflies on trees
Students hang origami butterflies on trees in the lobby of the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Students mark Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Nov. 26, 2019
Kristen Bowman
Brenau University President Anne Skleder, right, admires the display with a first-year student.

Brenau University President Anne Skleder, right, admires the display with a first-year student. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Visitors to the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts the last week of November may notice a special display in the lobby.

Small trees covered in origami butterflies line the stained-glass windows to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25.

Students enrolled in the First-Year Experience, commonly known as FYE, made the origami butterflies in honor of “Las Mariposas” — three Dominican sisters who were assassinated in 1960 for their opposition of the dictator “El Jefe” Rafael Trujillo. In 1999, The United Nations General Assembly dedicated Nov. 25 in honor of these women: Patria, Minerva and Maria Theresa Mirabal.

“That didn’t happen until 1999,” explained Political Science Professor Heather Hollimon in a lecture to the first-year students on Nov. 25. “In the 1980s, many Latin American countries wanted to remember the Mirabal sisters, and they regionally recognized it as a day for activism to support women’s rights. It took a little bit longer for the international community to do so, but they have and now celebrate it every year.”

The first-year students learned about “Las Mariposas,” meaning “the butterflies” — the underground name the sisters had adopted as they opposed El Jefe’s regime.

Brenau President Anne Skleder was on hand to express her support for the project.

“This is a very, very important day,” Skleder said. “That this day is now recognized by the United Nations is extremely important. What I want you to know is that I am really hopeful about the eradication of this problem, because your generation is one of social conscience. Your generation is committed to social action. Your generation will be the one to address and eradicate this violence.”

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