Western Courier

Western takes back the night

Emily Stieren, Assistant News Editor

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The Macomb campus community assembled as the Western Illinois University Women Center’s held their 28th annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) rally in an attempt to spread awareness about assault in all forms
last Thursday.

 “We do (TBNT) each year,” said Western President Jack Thomas, “It lets everybody know that this university is very supportive of women affected by violence. It also is just to support women in general. Not just women, but men too; it is violence against both.”

 The rally began outside Sherman Hall. Displays of resources and services were presented. Organizations such as the University Counseling Center, the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Committee and Victim Services had tables with information regarding how someone affected by violence could get support.

 “We help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Carol Smith, a domestic violence counselor at Victim Services. “We get orders of protection, have counseling services and help them find shelter if they need it.”

 The TBTN Rally continued on the steps of Sherman Hall with Jose Morales and Morgan Knutsen as the orators. Morales stated how one in three women and one in six men worldwide have been victims of sexual or domestic violence. Knowing that men are affected by this violence prompted the TBTN committee to make this year’s theme “People Helping People.”

 “The theme was inspired by a couple of things,” Knutsen said. “As time goes on, we have realized that domestic violence and sexual assault is not just a women’s issue. It is an issue that affects all genders, races, classes and sexualities. That means it takes all of us to help stop this violence from being accepted and continuing in our society. The theme symbolizes the need for everyone to fight back against the violence.” 

 TBTN’s goal is to find a voice for survivors and empower people to speak up against all forms of assault. According to Thomas, domestic and sexual assault are especially relevant on university campuses all over the world.

 “At every college campus, you are going to have some issues,” Thomas said. “We try to minimize them as much as possible, and we try to spread the word and let people know that kind of behavior is not tolerated at Western Illinois University. We will do all that we can do to prosecute any individual to the fullest extent of the law when something like that does happen.”

 After the introduction, the TBTN proclamation was read. It was signed by President Jack Thomas, Mayor Mike Inman, the Director of the Women’s Center and the Director of Victim Services to recognize survivors of all forms of interpersonal violence.

 The TBTN march to Chandler Park involved a breath-taking amount of chanting, candles and emotion. Their march to end violence finished at the park where the “Survivor Speak Out” took place. A handful of victims shared their stories with the crowd. This heart-wrenching segment brought tears to the audience’s eyes as they heard the statements of the brave participants.

 “There are a lot of people that come forth to talk about their experiences as they normally do,” Thomas said. “It is good for people to hear those testimonies and those stories. Unfortunately, we are saddened by those stories that are told, but we appreciate people coming forward and supporting this event.”

  The TBTN Rally encouraged the large audience to recognize the difficulties men and women must face who have been affected by violence. The experiences that were told by survivors brought a gloomy, but hopeful vibe to those in attendance.

 “We must encourage bystanders, victims and survivors to share their stories to begin healing and motivating others to act,” Knutsen said. “You matter, your truth matters and change is going to come.”

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Western takes back the night