"Take Back the Night" April 2 to target sexual violence

"Take Back the Night" April 2 to target sexual violence

Take Back the Night graphic

Every year, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college, according to data from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Rape continues to be the most under-reported crime on campuses across America and nearly two thirds – 63% -- of all sexual assaults go unreported to police.

Experts believe that by raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses and by highlighting all of the resources and support available to victims that they can help reduce the rate of incidence and help those affected begin to heal.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on April 2, Rowan University will host its annual Take Back the Night program in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit, an event designed to raise awareness and give individuals and the campus community an opportunity to speak out against sexual violence.

“Preventing sexual violence is everyone’s responsibility,” said Allie Pearce, assistant director of Healthy Campus Initiatives in Rowan’s Wellness Center in Winans Hall.

The roughly two hour program will feature an open mic portion in which individuals affected by sexual violence may speak publicly about assault – whether from personal experience or an experience that affected a loved one.

The event will also include 10-12 informational tables hosted by campus groups including HCI, the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution, Residential Learning, Greek Life and others, Pearce said.

She said the open mic portion is usually limited to about a half dozen speakers and that counselors will be present to offer support to participants and listeners.

The program will conclude with a campus walk to show strength in the face of unknown would-be assailants everywhere.

“Take Back the Night programs that started in the 1970s and 80s were built around the theme of an after dark walk that said ‘we’re not fearful… sexual violence is NOT OK on our campus or anywhere else,” Pearce said.

She encouraged any Rowan University student who feels she or he was a victim of sexual violence to report it as there are systems in place to address these incidents through law enforcement and the Title IX process.

“My hope is that students will feel they are not alone,” Pearce said. “There are many resources on campus – other students, faculty, staff, doctors, nurses and the police – who have their back.”