The Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) group at Gannon University will host Take Back the Night, an annual event to take a stand against sexual assault and rape. The event will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in Perry Square.
Last year, more than 200 women and men rallied together for this cause.
Alexandra Iorio, SAVE president, said the event brings the campus and community together.
“Gannon is such a pillar of the community that in order for changes to occur, they need to start with leaders at Gannon as well as within the community,” Iorio, a senior sport and exercise science major, said.
This is the first year that SAVE has taken over the event, Iorio said.
“I have participated in this event since freshman year and each year it continues to grow,” Iorio said. “We hope that this year will be the biggest yet.”
Take Back the Night is also sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns, the Student Government Association, Love Is For Everyone (LIFE), Activities Planning Board (APB), Student Advisory Committee, the Crime Victim Center, SafeNet, Erie GAINS and The Office of the District Attorney.
The Crime Victims Center along with SafeNet’s Domestic Violence Network partner with the Gannon Police and Safety Office to provide outside resources and information for students, Dan Gennaro, community outreach assistant for the Crime Victim Center of Erie County and liaison for SAVE, said.
“It’s a unique collaboration where community organizations, such as ourselves, can bring some ‘best practices’ to the university,” Gennaro said. “as well as pertinent information regarding sexual or domestic violence that is specific to the Erie region.”
Students on this campus need to be safe, Iorio said.
“I want to do everything in my power to keep the campus and the community a safe place for students,” Iorio said. “By working together with the Crime Victims Center and SafeNet, we can begin to make the necessary changes to maintain a safe atmosphere for our students.”
Gennaro said the theme this year for Take Back the Night is “Support, Strength and Solidarity.”
“It’s events like these that do more than just bring people together,” Gennaro said. “They bring the issues that often go unspoken to light.
“Giving students and local residents this opportunity to speak out and share their stories, we are, in essence, declaring that these acts are unacceptable and we refuse to let them go on any longer.”
In addition to the rally, there will be live music from Tommy Link of the band Strangers and Liars, free T-shirts to the first 100 participants and an opportunity for the men in attendance to sign a “Men Against Sexual Violence Pledge.”
This year, the rally is utilizing more student involvement, as a designated member of a club or organization will speak at one of the various locations throughout the city, Gennaro said. This is to help the ongoing SAVE efforts to create a safer campus environment where students look after one another as effective bystanders, who are not afraid to intervene and protect their peers when they see something startling.
Last year, over 20 Gannon student groups made posters that they carried and marched with at Take Back the Night. Student groups can send one or two members from their group to make a poster for this year’s event from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Waldron resource room.