Event focuses on eliminating violence, providing information

Student-decorated shirts from the Clothesline Project surround Memorial Amphitheater during Take Back the Night. The event addresses sexual violence and offers students information on local services.

Take Back the Night is an international event sponsored by the Center for Women’s Studies and University Residences Oct. 22. The goal of the event is to aid in the fight against rape, domestic and sexual violence. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Amphitheater.

“We remember the victims and honor the survivors,” said Coordinator for Women’s Studies Emily Kelley.

There will also be an information fair where participants can find out about local community sources, she said.

Counseling Services, Title IX, Shoals Crisis Center, Office of Diversity and Institutional Equity, SafePlace, One Place, SAFE, Shoals Community Clinic, Northwest Alabama AIDS Coalition and the Center for Women’s Studies will have tables set up, Kelley said.

Earlier this week, the Clothesline Project, held in the GUC, provided students and faculty the opportunity to decorate T-shirts with anti-domestic violence messages, or any anti-message they felt comfortable sharing.

Those shirts will hang around the Amphitheater in preparation for Take Back the Night.

Sophomore Desiree Garner said she has had personal experience with domestic violence and thinks the Clothesline Project is important.

“I just feel like a lot more people should be aware of it so that people who are in those situations can be helped when they need to escape from that,” she said.

Junior Coby Hicks decorated a shirt during the Clothesline Project Oct. 19. He said he believes Take Back the Night is an important event to bring awareness to domestic violence.

“Violence toward each other isn’t necessary,” he said.

People will have the chance to decorate shirts again the night of the event, Kelley said.

Kate O’Keefe, area coordinator for University Residences, said the department encouraged the Resident Advisors to use Take Back the Night as their program for October.

“A lot of them are getting their residents together and walking over to the event with them,” she said.

Resident Advisors will also be doing anything the Center for Women’s Studies needs them to do, she said.

The organization that created Take Back the Night began decades ago in Europe, when women from different countries came together as a tribunal council to discuss women’s safety walking in public streets. Since the ‘70s, events focusing on eliminating sexual and domestic violence of all types, have taken place in the U.S.

Freshman Miranda Lee said she thinks Take Back the Night is an important event for the campus.

“There’s not enough awareness for domestic violence, and there’s a stigma that it can only happen in heterosexual relationships,” she said. “I was in a lesbian relationship and was abused.”

Help is available, Lee said.

“You don’t have to stay,” she said. “You don’t have to suffer that abuse. There is a way out.”

The evening will end with a benediction led by Carl Gebhardt, adjunct professor of history and religion, and a candlelit nonsectarian dedication.

“He (Gebhardt) is a retired minister and he has a tremendous amount of experience in this field,” Kelley said in a previous The Flor-Ala article. “He really has respect for all religions and I don’t want this to be any one religion. I know Carl will honor that and won’t make it about any religion.”