Humanity First hosts charity fashion show for VAV

Vera Bespalova

Glittering evening gowns, stiletto heels and well-tailored suits and ties — students put on their best red carpet attire last night in the SAC Ballroom to support victims of domestic violence.

Humanity First — Texas Chapter hosted We Own the Night, a charity fashion show that raised money for the Voices Against Violence Survivor’s Emergency Fund, which is used to assist survivors of interpersonal and relationship violence on campus. 

“Voices Against Violence offers educational resources as well as support services,” said Jay Wilk, an English senior and member of the Counseling and Mental Health Center’s Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue.

Wilk added the VAV emergency fund uses funding raised by various campus organizations to help survivors do everything from paying medical bills to replacing broken glasses or phones from violent incidents. 

“[VAV helps] in the immediate aftermath of a situation with interpersonal violence,” Wilk said.

The event was inspired by the reality shows “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and featured a mocktail hour, a charity auction, guest speakers on relationship violence and the main event, a fashion show.

Both male and female contestants participated in the fashion show, which was judged by the audience based on the donations they contributed to each participant. At the end of the night, the donations were counted and the winners announced through a rose ceremony.

UT’s chapter of Humanity First, a student organization that provides non-discriminatory humanitarian relief and service in the local community, hosted the event. Lila Al-Kassem, a biochemistry freshman and public relations director for Humanity First, said the organization has many campaigns that work abroad, but really wanted to help an on-campus organization.

Humanity First reached out to VAV because it believes relationship violence and sexual assault is a generally overlooked but widespread issue on college campuses, and therefore needs to be addressed.

“UT definitely needs more awareness of domestic violence, and not nesessarily in the form of a fashion show,” said Halima Kamara, one of the attendees of the show.

Kamara added she believes a comprehensive approach, such as a permanent table in the union advocating the cause, would be effective. She came to the fashion show to support her brother, who was one of the contestants, and also to support the cause.

Despite the glitz and glamour, attendees were reminded of the serious nature of the cause they were helping to support — survivors of violence.

“We named it ‘We Own the Night’ as a symbol saying, ok, we are going to empower these victims of relationship violence… we really felt passionate about the cause,” Al-Kassem said.