SAVE, a new organization on campus committed to educating the community about sexual violence, will be hosting Take Back the Night on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Forum where students, faculty and staff are encouraged to speak out, tell their stories and take back the night.
Take Back the Night began in Philadelphia in 1975 and has been a well-attended event on University of Richmond's campus for about 10 years. Roughly 20 Richmond students volunteered to speak at last year's event and voice their stories, said Steve Bisese, vice president for student development.
This year, each Panhellenic sorority is pledging 35 percent of its membership to help sponsor the event, senior Christine Parker said. Richmond College Student Government Association, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity are also helping to sponsor the event.
"Victims of sexual violence often suffer in silence," said Peter LeViness, director of Counseling and Psychological Services. "Survivors who attend but do not choose to speak publicly still often benefit from hearing other survivors' stories, and friends and allies of survivors benefit from gaining greater empathy and understanding."
A candlelight vigil and a performance by a cappella group Choeur du Roi will take place before the forum is open to volunteer speakers, victims of sexual violence or people who have been affected by sexual violence, said Bisese.
The university takes the education of issues concerning sexual assault seriously, and there are a number of programs -- including White Ribbon, It Ends Now and Take Back the Night -- that encourage students to acknowledge sexual violence and become more educated about it, Bisese said.
"I think that Take Back the Night is an event that brings the Richmond community together," junior Erin May said. "There's something special about trusting your peers that allows social barriers to be broken and creates a feeling of unity from the entire campus."
Although it is difficult to know the exact number of sexual assaults on campus because sexual violence is widely under-reported, some of the most recognized national surveys of college students have found that 3 to 5 percent of college women are victims of rape or attempted rape each year, LeViness said. It is also estimated that 10 percent of college men have been victims of sexual assault at some point in their lives, he said.
"There is an informal and creative way to educate students," Bisese said. "It is an emotional program for people who attend and it is a powerful program because it focuses on the victims."
Contact reporter Katie Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org