Written by Erin Martin, Staff Writer
Tuesday night, VSU hosted “Take Back the Night,” an annual sexual assault awareness forum for students held in the Student Union Ballrooms. The event was hosted and sponsored by Office of Social Equity, Office of Health Promotions, The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force.
The purpose of this event was to acknowledge the prevalence and injustice of rape culture in college campuses. Faculty and staff were encouraged to join together to end all forms of sexual violence.
The interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Brian Gerber was the introductory speaker, and informed the audience of some shocking statistics on sexual assault on college campuses, such as that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual violence. Furthermore, on campuses in the U.S., 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted. 90 percent of those women do not report the assault.
“We have to make sure that everyone is aware,” Gerber said. “It is an issue across all institutions of higher education. The more students are aware of the possibilities of what can happen, the more we can prevent it from happening. Things like these are a good way for universities to share resources and let students know that it is more common than anyone would be willing to admit.”
Following the introduction was a screening of the movie “The Hunting Ground,” where producers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering interview over 100 students who recount a traumatic moment of their lives. After the movie, there were panelists from different organizations and departments on campus. Students in the audience were given the chance to ask anonymous questions for feedback.
One of the panelists for the evening, Tricia Hall talked about the importance of these conversations on college campuses.
“These conversations need to happen on all college campuses,” Hall said. “Young adults need to learn about intimacy, and how to communicate in the right way.”
The event’s name was inspired by Take Back the Night, which is a nonprofit organization created in 2001 with a mission to end the violence. Events like this are held in over 30 countries every year.
“I think people have to acknowledge the reality that women and men are getting raped, and it’s just not fair,” Lindsey Morgan, senior criminal justice major, said “Conversations like this are important though, it makes women feel comfortable to know that someone cares.”
Students are encouraged to use the Counseling Center for advice and resources if you need their help, the number is 229-333-5940. The Haven also offers 24-hour emergency shelter and services to victims of abuse.