The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Safe Relationships Open Mic Night raises money, awareness for domestic violence nonprofit

Two representatives from Casa Myrna speak to attendees about the organization and safe relationship practices. Casa Myrna accepted donations throughout the event. Photo courtesy Haylen Wehr.

A Safe Relationships Open Mic Night, which took place in AfterHours Feb. 22, raised money and awareness for Casa Myrna, a Boston-based domestic violence nonprofit organization. 

Three student-run organizations at Northeastern: the Council for University Programs, or CUP, Sexual Health Advocacy, Resources and Education, or SHARE, and Interrobang Poets ran the event. Event organizers said CUP created the idea for the event and reached out to SHARE and Interrobang to collaborate. 

The event, a two-part open mic, saw 20 participants share poetry in the form of spoken word, music and dance. Most performances were centered around relationships covering themes such as loneliness, platonic intimacy, jealousy, healing and friendship. 

Haylen Wehr, CUP’s associate director of community events and a second-year international business major, helped organize the event which followed another love-centered event CUP hosted Feb. 13. CUP wanted to maintain the theme of love and Valentine’s Day but also expand the scope of its event to something beyond the holiday. 

“We also wanted to bring attention to some of the darker topics that come with love and relationships,” Wehr said. “So that led us to thinking about domestic abuse and safe relationship practices.”   

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or NCADV, intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of violent crime. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the United States experience severe physical or sexual violence or stalking by intimate partners. It also reported that, on college campuses, 1 in 5 students say an intimate partner has sexually assaulted them.

To raise awareness and money for the cause, CUP and SHARE reached out to Casa Myrna. The nonprofit supports victims of domestic violence through a wide range of services, including counseling, legal advocacy, shelter and supportive services. Casa Myrna employees attended the event and explained its mission to attendees. Attendees were then able to donate to the organization. 

While CUP has previously hosted music-based events, Wehr wanted to include spoken word in this event because of its theme. 

“It’s something that I feel really connected to, personally, especially with this theme,” Wehr said. “I felt like those things are very conducive to spoken words.”   

The connection between art and raising awareness is something important to the organizers of the event. 

Jayla Tillison, Interrobang’s president and a fifth-year civil engineering and architectural studies combined major, said she feels like art is one of the most effective ways to process and advocate for important causes. A lot of political and social movements are accompanied by art. Even smaller events such as an open mic at a university can serve as a medium to advocate for important and current causes, Tillison said. She performed two of her own poems at the event because of the open, welcoming environment the open mic fostered. 

“There’s something really … cathartic about performing poetry,” Tillson said. “It’s one thing to keep it to yourself, but it’s nice to share with other people too, and I think it creates community.”   

Jay Kemp, SHARE’s social media coordinator and a graduate student in the media advocacy program, echoed this sentiment. 

“I think events like this are so successful because we bring together different clubs on campus, different organizations, and we all work together to put on a much bigger, much more successful event,” Kemp said.  

A performer at the open mic reads a poem. Most performances concerned relationships, addressing themes such as loneliness and healing. Photo courtesy Haylen Wehr.

Kemp also performed at the event, saying that its inclusive atmosphere and the other performers inspired them to take the stage and share a poem they had written at 14 years old about their experiences as part of a military family. 

Nicole Candela, a CUP member and second-year business administration and communication studies combined major, shared her excitement about the poetry section of the event. 

“I’ve never actually been to an official slam poetry event or something quite exactly like this,” she said. 

Candela also noted that the event organizers were successful in motivating attendees to donate through incentives, like a sticker for every $2 donated, further sharing her excitement to interact with people she had never seen on campus before.  

SHARE and CUP will continue to host events on campus to raise awareness for important causes and encourage student involvement.

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