March 30, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Takes Back the Night on April 7

VALDOSTA — Believing that no one should fear the night, or the day, Valdosta State University will Take Back the Night at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, in the Student Union Ballrooms. A candlelight vigil will follow at 8 p.m.

Faculty, staff, students, and the general public are invited to attend and help shatter the silence and stop the violence.

Take Back the Night will feature a keynote address by Dr. Keith E. Edwards, a scholar and educator on sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, curricular approaches, and leadership. His work centers on ending men’s violence against women. He believes that cultivating men’s altruism and self-interest leads to the development of more consistent, sustainable, and effective allies and that everyone should remain hopeful about ending sexual violence in the near future, despite the statistics.

“… Dr. Keith Edwards will really resonate with our students,” said Chelsea Wells Holcombe, VSU’s health educator with the Office of Health Promotions. “The White House created the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to target the importance of changing attitudes that lead to violence. Sexual assault awareness and prevention is now focusing more on a move to a bystander intervention approach, and Dr. Edward’s message and training aligns with this new movement.”

Take Back the Night’s history dates back at least half a century, to a time when women from many European countries gathered as a tribunal council to discuss safety when walking down public streets. The movement found its way to the United States in the 1970s, again emerging from a desire to make the streets a safe place at night. In 1973, protesters spoke out against pornography in San Francisco, Calif., and the murdering of women of color in Los Angeles, Calif., according to the Take Back the Night Foundation. Two years later, a march was held in Philadelphia, Pa., after the murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a microbiologist who was stabbed to death while walking home alone.

Today, Take Back the Night focuses on ending sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, and all other forms of sexual violence. While some events are women-only, many others include men as victims, bystanders, and supporters.

VSU’s Take Back the Night is sponsored by the Office of Health Promotions, the Office of the President, and The Haven, a nonprofit organization that provides 24-hour emergency temporary shelter and services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in nine South Georgia counties.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Take Back the Night is part of VSU’s month-long action plan to end sexual violence. This year’s national campaign focuses on sexual assault on college and university campuses and strives to get everyone — administrators, faculty, staff, students, visitors, friends, neighbors, alumni — involved in creating safer campuses. The campaign’s goal is to help the entire community learn to take action to prevent sexual assault.

“Preventing sexual violence on campus takes more than one department, office, club, team, administrator, professor, staff member, or student,” Holcombe said. “It takes all of us working together in big and small ways. Everyone can play a role in creating a culture of safety, equality, and respect on campus.”

One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Of these, more than 90 percent do not report the assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The 2015 Sexual Assault Awareness Month slogan is “It’s Time to Act: Safer Campuses. Brighter Futures. Prevent Sexual Violence.”

Contact Chelsea Wells Holcombe at (229) 245-3896 or for more information.

On the Web: