Gannon University’s Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) organization is set to host the annual Take Back the Night Vigil from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday to show support to loved ones who have been affected by sexual violence.
According to Sara Nesbitt, the program coordinator for the Center for Social Concerns, the event is held on Gannon’s campus for a multitude of reasons.
Nesbitt said that the event is used to show survivors that they are not alone and that they are surrounded by a community of people who care for them. She also said that the event is designed to bring awareness to the existence of sexual violence, as well as the need for it to come to an end.
Meagan Hyslop, a co-president of SAVE, said that this annual event has been a part of Gannon’s campus for over 15 years and, on average, 250 to 300 individuals attend each year.
According to Nesbitt, students will take part in a march around the area. The event will feature speakers at various sites on campus who will speak about issues of consent and healing.
Following the march, participants will return to the Yehl Alumni Ballroom, where a speakout will be held.
Nesbitt said that the speakout will allow victims, survivors and those touched by sexual violence the opportunity to share their stories within a supportive group of individuals.
Campus ministers and counselors will also be available during the event.
Nesbitt said that the event is important to the campus because it can show survivors and victims that they are loved and supported, which can help to eliminate the fear of reporting these kinds of crimes.
“Sexual violence is endemic in our society and severely underreported,” Nesbitt said. “There is also too much stigma that attaches to the victims and survivors of these crimes.”
Hyslop said that she believes that the event is especially important to college students because individuals ages 12 to 34 report higher risks of suffering from sexual assault and violence.
Nesbitt said that she believes students and staff should attend the vigil in order to show their support for victims and survivors, as well as others who have been impacted by violence.
Nesbitt said that the impact of this kind of violence can reach many individuals.
“In the wake of the #metoo movement and the #timesup movement, we’ve seen just how broad sexual assault is in terms of both range of experiences and victim base,” Nesbitt said.
Hayley Woebse, a junior nursing major, said that she believes that events like Take Back the Night are beneficial to Gannon’s campus and students.
“I do believe these kinds of events are important on campus because it is something that gets swept under the rug,” Woebse said. “Then when one actually occurs, people worry more about the image of those involved and they don’t want it to become public knowledge.”
Woebse said that she thinks this kind of violence being ignored can be detrimental to those who have been affected.
“In my opinion, this could make a victim or survivor feel not fully respected at this very vulnerable time,” Woebse said. “These kinds of events are a time for them to make themselves heard.”
Hylop said that she hopes many students and staff members will take time to come to the event and listen to the information and stories that will be provided.
“Students and staff should attend the vigil to raise awareness and end sexual violence while helping survivors in their healing,” Hyslop said. “We encourage everyone to come and take part in this event.”
Individuals who wish to participate in the peaceful march are asked to meet in the Yehl Alumni Ballroom, located in the Waldron Campus Center.