More than 200 students sat on the stone ground of the University Forum Tuesday night to share and listen to one another's experiences involving sexual violence.
Take Back the Night aims to effect understanding, compassion and healing for those who have been affected by sexual violence. This night has been a campus tradition shared among University of Richmond students for at least fifteen years, said Kerry Fankhauser, associate dean of Westhampton College who planned the event.
"I hope that our community sees that men and women on this campus are dealing with this issue," Lindsay Hudson, a senior who helped plan the event, said. "Even people who seem like their lives are perfect or that they have it all together."
Choeur du Roi, one of the university's co-ed a cappella groups, started off the night by singing two songs. Hudson then announced the Forum was open for any student to rise and speak into the microphone.
"Silences are okay," Hudson said as the crowd quieted and waited for the first speaker to walk to the front.
For about two hours, students took turns sharing their experiences with sexual violence, giving advice to those seeking recovery and supporting one another in their healing processes.
"It was an extremely empowering and emotional experience," Annie Davies, a junior who attended Take Back the Night for the first time this year, said. "I think Take Back the Night is so important to our campus since it gives people an opportunity to speak out and be heard in a safe environment."
Two counselors from Counseling and Psychological Services, Kris Day and Jan McMillan, stationed themselves in private rooms in the Gottwald Science Center to meet with any students seeking support during the event.
Students left the forum around 9:45 p.m. after many of their peers had spoken. Take Back the Night will take place again next spring.
Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at firstname.lastname@example.org