WMU News

WMU ready to 'Take Back the Night'

March 7, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will act as host for an on-campus Take Back the Night march and rally for the University and local communities starting at 8 p.m. Monday, March 18, in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center.

The event is being organized by WMU's Students Talking About Relationships Peer Educator Program in conjunction with Women's Resources and Services, a unit in the University's Office of Student Activities and Leadership Programs.

It will begin with opening remarks from Dr. Joetta L. Carr, a WMU associate professor in the University Counseling and Testing Center. Following her remarks, there will be a candlelight march from the Bernhard Center to the Goldsworth Valley Pond area of campus.

"This will be a time for women, men and children from all backgrounds to 'take back the night' by walking together without fear," says STAR peer educator Kirsten Brink. "Acknowledging that several forms of violence are a part of every sector of our society is an important step towards change."

Highlighting the Goldsworth Valley activities will be a speak out session, where those in attendance may share how they have been personally affected by abuse, rape or other forms of violence. The session will serve as a safe place for individuals to testify about their experiences.

Throughout the week leading up to WMU's march and rally, STAR peer educators will be conducting a rotating ribbon campaign involving all residence halls on the campus.

The campaign invites individuals to take a pledge to be part of the solution to end sexual assault and other violence and to wear a black ribbon to signify their pledge. Those who take the pledge also have a chance to sign their name on a large cloth banner that reads "Take Back the Night 2002: Together We Stand Against Rape and Violence."

Student volunteers will be staffing pledge tables at different residences halls during the lunch and dinner hours. A final pledge table will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, March 18, on the lower level of the Bernhard Center. Two of the signed banners created through the pledge campaign will be on display during that evening's Take Back the Night activities.

Take Back the Night originated in England, and the first U.S. observance was held in San Francisco in 1978. Currently, numerous communities across the country sponsor a Take Back the Night program at some point each year.

"It's meant to be a symbolic event that celebrates everyone's right to be free from all forms of violence," says WMU's Rebecca Gadson, STAR Peer Educator Program coordinator.

Gadson says key goals of observing Take Back the Night are promoting awareness about sexual assault, child abuse and other forms of violence; empowering individuals to speak out or take other direct action against violence; and honoring the memory of those who have been victims of violence as well as celebrating those who have survived it.

For more information, contact Linda Lumley in Women's Resources and Services at (269) 387-2995 or <linda.lumley@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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