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  • MPC 400 Community Media II

Empowering Voices: The University of Olivet Unites to Take Back the Night

Participants of Take Back the Night bow their heads in a prayer led by Joshua Van Wyhe. Photo by Ella Gaffke.

OLIVET- “On average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in their own family every 11 minutes.”

These were the words of Joshua Van Wyhe at The University of Olivet’s Take Back the Night Vigil, held on April 4 at the Cutler Student Center. Van Wyhe, head of gender inclusive initiatives at the University, led the event that is held to remember the lives that have been lost to power-based violence and to honor the survivors of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

The event included a walk around the square, prayer and remembrance of lives lost at the bell in the square, and a meeting indoors in which students and organizations were able to share survivor stories, poems, prayers, and any additional words or thoughts to honor those that have been impacted by power-based violence.

According to Van Wyhe, similar events and protests can date as far back as the 1870s, when women protested the fear and violence experienced in the night on the streets of London, England. Take Back the Night is one of two annual power-based violence awareness events held annually by the University, the other being the Its on Us rally held every fall.

“Its been really incredible to see athletics and all Greek organizations show up and share that they stand against sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and all forms of power-based violence,” said Van Wyhe. “That’s been one of the most memorable moments, seeing our whole community coming together to denounce these horrible things.”

Multiple other organizations also played a part in supporting and participating in the Take Back the Night event, including the Walking Comets program, the University’s Green Dot initiative, and the Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center.

Robin Luckadoo Chadderon, director of health and wellness at The University of Olivet, says that the Green Dot and Health and Wellness programs were more than happy to assist with the event.

“Green Dot is about intervening when you see there’s a problem or that there might be a problem,” said Luckadoo Chadderon. “We should be able to walk at night and not worry about being sexually assaulted. I should be able to be safe. It doesn’t matter about who I am or where I'm walking or what time of day it is.”

Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center, an organization based in Lansing, Michigan, provides free counseling and advocacy services to children who have experienced physical or sexual abuse. Morgan Shultis, Mya Trevino, family advocates, and forensic interviewers for Small Talk, were able to speak at the event and share information about their organization and its services.

“Our work is focused on survivors, and we are really passionate about supporting them in our community,” said Shultis. “We want to spread awareness of our organization, and we love to go out into the community and spread more awareness about sexual assault and child abuse.”

“I would love to make events like these bigger,” said Van Wyhe. “I want to walk alongside other students who are going through some of the same things I went through when I was in college, and help bring these dark secrets into the light.”

By Ben Porter, Ella Gaffke, and Taylor Wilsey

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