KENT, OH - The Women's Center at Kent State University is hosting two Take Back the Night events.
The first of the two events will take place on April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. Take Back the Night Foundation Executive Director Katie Koestner will speak, followed by a march and rally at 8:15 p.m. beginning in Risman Plaza. Organizers expect about 400 people to march through the Kent State campus and then along East Main Street in Kent.
Koestner, who was the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally, will share her story in her speech "No-Yes." She has been with the Take Back the Night Foundation since 2001. The Take Back the Night Foundation is an international group that exists to raise awareness of sexual violence with the ultimate goal of shattering the silence surrounding these crimes, while at the same time empowering survivors. The foundation sponsors dozens of events each year called Take Back the Night to lift the cover of darkness that shrouds the reality of the dangers women face each night.
A second event will take place on April 29. From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., a name-burning, candlelight vigil and speak-out will be held outside of the Women's Center at Kent State as part of the national 10 Points of Light to Take Back the Night event.
Kent State, along with nine other college campuses, will host the first 10 Points of Light to Take Back the Night event. Other universities participating as one of the 10 points of light include Harvard, Rutgers and Brown. By having 10 schools across the nation participate, the Take Back the Night Foundation hopes to shed light on sexual violence in a coordinated fashion. Each of the 10 locations will light vigil candles simultaneously at 9 p.m. and unite to illuminate the darkness of abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Amanda Roder, Kent State graduate assistant at the Women's Center, said she feels grateful to be a part of both events.
"Kent State is very blessed that we have the executive director of Take Back the Night Foundation coming here to speak, let alone being chosen to be one of the 10 Points of Light," Roder said. "I can guarantee the lives of many people who hear Koestner speak will be changed because she is so captivating."
Roder said the purpose of the march and rally is for people to literally "take back the night" by being able to walk after nightfall and feel safe.
The 10 Points of Light event on April 29 will provide survivors and friends and families of victims the opportunity to reflect and learn from each other's experiences while shining a light on sexual abuse to the general public. The event also will feature a "Speak Out" where participants can share their stories.
Roder said she is excited that Kent State is involved in both Take Back the Night initiatives because it shows the university as a whole cares about preventing sexual assault.
"I am so glad that these two events are happening," Roder said. "It's putting a national spotlight on Kent State in a positive way."
Many departments of the university and other organizations have contributed to this effort, including Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel, Counseling and Human Development Services, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Greek life, the Honors College, the Division of Information Services, Women's Liberation Collective, the Akron and Summit county rape crisis centers, the Student Multicultural Center and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
"Not only is it a way to spread awareness and prevention, but it's a way of collaborating across campus," Roder said. "I think that is important because people aren't aware of sexual assault, especially on college campuses.
For more information on the events click HERE.