Sweet Briar College is the first college in the Lynchburg area to launch its own chapter of “Help Save the Next Girl,” an organization founded by Dan and Gil Harrington, parents of murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, to help sensitize other young women to predatory dangers. Harrington disappeared after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in October 2009 and was found dead 101 days later.
“We foster mutual respect and camaraderie with young men, and we are committed to be an active, imaginative presence on campuses and in clubs and violence prevention forums across the country,” the website states. “We believe media presence also promotes our agenda to keep young women alert to preventative social safety.”
Business major Tyesha West ’14 founded the chapter at Sweet Briar last fall. Her decision to become involved in the organization came in response to recent cases of missing women in Central Virginia, including the August 2013 disappearance of Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy.
But fear isn’t the answer, West says.
“Instead of being afraid, [women] need to be educated and empowered.”
West says she has received “an outpouring of support” from other Sweet Briar students and the Amherst and Nelson counties community and is confident that the chapter will be “incredibly successful.” Since launching its Facebook page on Jan. 12, the chapter has gained 348 “likes.”
“Help Save the Next Girl” is active nationwide and has chapters at high schools and universities, including at Virginia Tech and Radford University. The organization has also begun to reach out to a younger demographic, offering safety presentations to southwest Virginia Girl Scouts. For more information on how to get involved, visit helpsavethenextgirl.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.