President Frederick W. Clark Jr. shared his appreciation to those who gathered inside the courtyard of Weygan Hall before leading the group through campus as part of the Take Back the Night March, organized by the BSU Sexual Violence Advocacy and Support Center (SVAS).
“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we wanted to bring the community together as an act of solidarity and to spread awareness,” said SVAS Outreach Educator Christy Caisse.
Take Back the Nightis a foundation dedicated to creating safe communities through awareness events and initiatives surrounding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence. This is the second year SVAS has coordinated the event.
Marchers held signs and chanted their way to the Rondileau Campus Center ballroom where they listened to guest speakers that included BSU Asst. Police Chief Michael A. Froio, Det Sgts. Kaitlyn Moriand Robert McEvoy.
Asst. Chief Froio reminded students that empowerment resources are available on campus, such as the Rape Aggression Defense class. He encouraged students to sign up and reach out to police if they need help.
“Some may think the police aren’t sensitive to these issues, but we are…a lot of us have our own experiences,” he said.
Students and survivors were also given the opportunity to speak and share their stories.
During the event, SVAS introduced the White Ribbon Campaign, an international movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls. Those who took the White Ribbon pledge are asked to wear a white ribbon during Denim Day, another event sponsored by SVAS slated for April 25.
Denim Dayis a movement that came about after an Italian High Court overturned a rape conviction in 1999 because the victim wore tight jeans. Because she had to help remove the jeans, the court declared it was no longer rape but consensual sex.
As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SVAS is also planning an Unpacking the #MeToo Movement and What’s Next student panel discussion on April 18 from 12-1 p.m. The discussion will take place in the Rondileau Campus Center council chambers.
The goal in hosting these events is to better educate the community on sexual and domestic violence issues, Ms. Caisse said.
“We are stronger together when more people take a stand. It empowers survivors to know they are not alone. We at Bridgewater are a family and it’s important that we take care of each other,” she said.
The event was co-sponsored by the Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, project B.E.A.R. and Sister Scholars. (Story by Heather Harris Michonski, University News)