By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A university program that addresses violence against women on campus is declaring Friday as Wear Purple Day at Montana State University-Northern.
The day will honor Congress' designation of March as Women's History Month and April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month,
"I think there will be an explosion of color on Northern's campus," said Margaret Meggs, director of ReSPONSE at Northern.
The decision to wear purple grew out of a series of e-mails among members of Meggs' book discussion group. One member e-mailed a piece written by author Erma Bombeck after Bombeck learned she needed a kidney transplant. She died after the surgery in 1996.
Meggs said Bombeck's message was similar to that in a poem by Jenny Joseph called "Warning!" In the poem, Joseph writes that "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple/ with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me," and proceeds to tell of the outrageous things she will do when she is older, as opposed to the accepted, responsible things she must do now. At the end, she writes that maybe she "ought to practice a little now?"
One of the e-mails suggested everyone in the group wear purple on April 11, Meggs said.
"Since I love purple and I love hats, I decided to expand it. They all said, 'Yeah!'" she said. "I found a way to tie it in as well with the work I do at Northern."
Meggs is asking people - on and off campus - to wear purple clothing, or just a piece of purple or lavender cloth or paper, or any other ribbons or pins supporting women's issues, like pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.
The purple clothing will show support for victims of violence against women and for women's contributions to history and society.
Purple and lavender are historically associated with women's issues. Purple was the primary color worn by proponents of the women's suffrage movement, and lavender is the official color for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Meggs said.
She said the e-mails she has received, and the comments from people she has talked to, suggest that many people will be wearing purple.