The second annual event raised awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault, inspiring hope and change
By: Chloe Steinig and Michaela McGrath
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- On March 30, the second annual Take Back The Night was held in upper level Gallagher Center. The event was held to raise awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault. Various student clubs and local organizations sponsored and planned the nationwide event. One of the biggest nights on campus, the formal ceremony was followed by a march and a candlelight vigil.
Some of the clubs and sponsors present included Feminism Today, NU Alliance, BSU, Counseling Services, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, and Family & Children’s Service of Niagara, among others.
Dr. Debra Colley, executive vice president of NU, welcomed students to the event with a brief speech. She stressed the relevance of the university’s Vincentian mission on behalf of President Father Maher, who was not able to attend.
“I think many of us know what we love about St. Vincent is that he was a change agent,” Colley said. “He was an organizer. That said, if there is a need in something we have to do, we have to work together to figure out how to make it happen. And that is exactly what tonight is all about.”
Provost Tim Ireland spoke briefly about his experience with his son, a member of a fraternity who designated his room as a safe space for women.
“I think about my son and I’m incredibly proud of that,” Ireland said. “This is what Take Back The Night is about. This is what bystander awareness is about. This is an initiative that requires all to participate.”
The most moving part of the night was hearing guest speaker Martha LaCourte’s story first hand. Now a crime victim specialist for the New York State Police, LaCourte spoke about her experience as a victim of rape.
“It’s been my experience in my life, that often times when I’ve experienced tragedies and traumas, there always seems to be a little wisdom that comes at some point,” said LaCourte. “In seeing all of you, I think the wisdom is that we really have to stand by each other. We have to stand by each other shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart.”
Following the ceremony, attendees exited the Gallagher Center to march around campus. The crowd chanted short phrases led by members of the ROTC.
Students repeated sayings such as, “Together, we have the power to stop the violence! Enough is enough! Step up! Speak out!”
At the conclusion of the march, a candlelight vigil and service was held in Alumni Chapel. Students, faculty, and friends all lit candles symbolizing hope and a better tomorrow.
For more information, visit Take Back The Night’s site here.