Campus News

October 22, 2010

Take Back the Night supports victims of sexual assault

“Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, size, appearance, or sexual orientation.” That’s a key message that organizers of Emory’s Take Back the Night observance hope to share with the campus community.

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Emory’s Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention will host the annual Speak Out and Rally at 5 p.m. on the Quad (rain location: DUC Terraces).

This event is the highlight of Take Back the Night, a week of programs held nationally to spotlight the problem of sexual assault, which claims as victims one of four women during their college years.

At the rally, anonymous stories of personal experiences will be read by students, faculty and administrators, including President Jim Wagner. Open microphones will allow people to speak of their own history, or in support of others. Counselors from Emory's student counseling center and campus representatives will be present.     

Campus resources
Aline Jesus Rafi, Emory’s coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention Education and Response, will talk about campus resources to help victims. “Is there sexual assault on campus? As many as on other campuses. We’re not more or less dangerous than others,” she says.

Rafi works closely with campus police. “We are lucky here on campus. The police are trained, willing to attend training, they want to investigate. I meet with all newly hired police to make sure they are sensitized, aware of the protocol,” she explains.

The Oct. 26 rally will be followed at 6:45 p.m. by a coffee hour at Common Grounds beneath Cannon Chapel, featuring Associate Dean of Religious Life Rabbi Vicki Armour-Hileman.

John Ford, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life, encourages students, faculty and staff to attend.  

“It is important to increase awareness about how to prevent sexual assault and to hear the stories of people who have gone through that terrible experience. The event will also highlight resources that are available for the survivors of sexual assault so that they will know Emory is a caring community where advice, support and health and counseling resources are available,” he says.  

Taking a stance
Ford stressed that this is not just for female students, or just for victims. “It is essential to note that men and women need to learn about this problem on campus and in society because both genders can be victims and perpetrators—no one is immune from experiencing the trauma; anyone can have a role in preventing it.”

Currently featured on the Quad is the Clothesline Project, a display of T-shirts decorated by sexual assault victims and their friends and loved ones. A multicultural kick-off party on Friday, Oct. 22 at the DUC Terraces will host student performances interspersed with the staggering statistics on sexual abuse around the world. 

Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention president Amanda Klein explains that Take Back the Night is one of two major events related to sexual assault awareness on the Emory campus. The other, in the spring, is Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Students are encouraged to participate at both events individually and through organizations such as fraternities and sororities. 

Carolyn Livingston, special assistant to the senior vice president for Campus Life, emphasizes: “It’s an opportunity for the community to become aware of sexual violence and to take a strong stance against sexual violence in any form. It’s a chance for faculty, staff and students to collaborate on a topic that is often underreported, to reenergize the community to not lose focus and to continue advocacy toward a campus free of sexual violence.”

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