Update: University of Richmond's annual sexual assault awareness program Take Back the Night has been rescheduled to next Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m., due to cold weather, according to an email sent on behalf of Kerry Albright Fankhauser, the interim dean of Westhampton College.
"Due to the unreasonably cold weather and wind, we fear that the turnout and participation for TBTN would greatly suffer," said Beth Curry, the coordinator for sexual misconduct education and advocacy. "So the event will be held next Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30."
The program was originally scheduled to take place tonight, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the forum.
Sexual assault victims will have a chance to share their stories at Take Back the Night, University of Richmond’s annual event to raise awareness for sexual violence. The event will take place on the Forum at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. Every year, students gather on campus to break the silence of sexual violence and support those who have been affected.
Take Back the Night (TBTN) has held events worldwide since the 1960s, but Beth Curry, coordinator for sexual misconduct education and advocacy, says University of Richmond’s is one of the most well-organized and well-attended she has seen.
“The event is about the power of speaking out," Curry said. "Rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse are crimes of power, and they’re actually often labeled crimes of silence because there’s such a low reporting rate. The goal of this event is to shatter the silence.”
Curry said she hopes those who attend the event will leave with a better understanding of what survivors go through and an understanding of the power that our school could have if it united to fight the issue of sexual violence.
“If we can all come together as a community, we can make a change,” she said.
In the past, Curry said she had heard nothing but positive feedback about TBTN, both from victims who have the courage to speak and friends of victims who are moved by the event.
“They’re pretty powerful stories,” CAPS Director Peter LeViness said. “Stories that most of us wouldn’t tell each other in everyday life. They’re hard things to talk about, but important things to talk about.”
CAPS will be available during the event for those who need someone to talk to, LeViness said.
“Any assault is one too many,” LeViness said. “I think a larger dilemma is to change the environment to make assaults less likely. Groups like Spiders for Spiders on campus are very helpful because they’re talking about what you can do. A lot of us would do something if we knew what to do.”
Another sexual violence awareness event, The Clothesline Project, will take place on the same day as TBTN. The Clothesline Project is an annual event to promote awareness of domestic violence where students anonymously express their emotions and experiences on t-shirts, which are then hung on a clothesline.
While The Clothesline Project is usually held on the lawn in front of Boatwright Memorial Library, Curry said this year it would potentially take place on the Forum so that the clothesline could serve as a backdrop during TBTN.
Choeur du Roi, one of Richmond's a cappella groups, will perform at the beginning of the night.
“It means so much to us to sing at such an important event every year where everyone’s voice is heard and there’s endless campus support,” Choeur du Roi junior Lexi Fadel said.
LeViness encouraged all students to attend TBTN to show support, especially men.
“I think some guys get worried that it’s going to be male-bashing time or something, but it’s not," he said. LeViness also said that men just being physically present would show a lot of support.
“There are so many things programmed in a given week or day, but I’d encourage people to go for as much time as they can afford, because it can mean a lot to a person who’s been affected to see the supportive faces out there,” LeViness said.
Contact news writer Missy Schrott at firstname.lastname@example.org