On April 5, Rowan University hosted their annual event for the prevention of sexual violence called “Take Back the Night”.
This year’s event took place in the Student Center Pit and paid tribute to April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The event was coordinated by the Wellness Center’s Healthy Campus Initiatives, which’s goal is to bring awareness to the university about sexual violence, to celebrate survivors and provide a safe space for all to learn how to combat sexual violence.
“This space allows us to tell survivors that we believe them and we support them,” said Allie Pearce, the assistant director of Healthy Campus Initiatives and co-chair of the Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force who coordinated the event. “We want to show them and everyone who attends that we also have the tools to help them.”
Several speakers attended the event, encouraging sexual assault survivors to not be afraid of speaking up, and encouraged the audience to work positively toward prevention.
Dean of Students Richard Jones was one such speaker, who stated he believed that showing respect to assault survivors is key to solving the issue of violence. He was very impressed by the large amount of students in attendance at the event.
“This is truly an example of what true community means,” Jones said. “We are all reclaiming this campus as a safe place for everyone. We’re taking back the night, for everyone.”
Additionally, during the evening, Rowan University’s a capella group “Prophecy” performed a powerful rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Till it Happens to You.”
There was also an opportunity in which the microphone was opened to survivors of sexual violence and any others who had something supportive to say for any victims of sexual violence.
In addition to oral parts of the event, many student organizations had tables set up for attendees to visit throughout the night. Each organization was related to prevention of sexual violence in some way and hosted activities which helped students learn about sexual violence. Various fraternities and sororities and the Office of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution were just two of the wide variety of organizations represented.
Students working the Student University Programmers (SUP) table felt SUP has a large role to play in the prevention of sexual violence.
“[Our organization] tries to provide a lot of activities on campus,” said Alyson Hilland, a junior accounting major. “[Our events] are a place to go that’s not a party and acts as another safe place on campus.”
Students said they attended this event for a variety of reasons. Matt Rhodes, a senior chemistry major, attended as a part of his organization, Prism. He felt their role as a club, which focuses on LGBT issues, was also integral to the discussion of sexual violence, as many of those who identify as LGBT are at higher risk for sexual violence.
“It’s also absolutely wonderful to see so many people coming together and wanting to make the campus safer,” Rhodes said.
Falisha Lormejuste, a freshman dual major in psychological sciences and Africana studies was impressed by the evening’s higher goals of creating a safe environment for all.
“I support anything which educates others about sexual violence,” Lormejuste said. “That’s really why I’m here.”
Pearce felt the evening’s goals were met and the event was ultimately a success.
“Each year the event gets better and better,” Pearce said. “Everyone who spoke demonstrates there’s always someone who can reach out to somebody else, and it really lends to the diversity within our student body.”