Saint Martin’s hosts week of activities calling for an end to violence against women

April 4, 2013

takebackthenight LACEY, Wash. — At least one of every three women worldwide has been beaten, sexually assaulted or otherwise abused, and of these crimes, less than 50 percent were reported to police, according to the Take Back the Night international program. Saint Martin’s University will help break the silence on these injustices by joining a call for an end to sexual violence during its fifth annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week, April 8-11. The week’s activities will culminate with a Take Back the Night candlelight march, to be held on the University’s Lacey campus April 11, the final evening of the weeklong observance. All activities are free and open to the public.

“The Take Back the Night planning committee is excited to expand our programming to engage the entire Saint Martin’s University community,” says Laurel Dube, assistant director of campus life and the event organizer. “By repeating programs in the afternoon and evening — and by hosting interactive self-defense and Title IX training, two new events this year — we hope to more effectively involve our faculty, staff, students, alumni and the surrounding community.”

“It really is time to make a change that starts with a zero-tolerance culture,” Dube adds.

Take Back the Night is a march held at locations around the globe to demand the end of all forms of sexual violence. Bringing together survivors, their supporters and community members, Take Back the Night marches have empowered people of all ages, races, religions, backgrounds and genders to raise a collective voice against sexual assault for more than 30 years. The first documented Take Back the Night event in the U.S. occurred in October 1975, when citizens rallied in Philadelphia to protest the stabbing murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a young microbiologist who was attacked as she was walking alone just a block from her home. The first international Take Back the Night took place in Belgium in March 1976 at The International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. More than 2,000 women from 40 countries participated.

Emphasizing that Saint Martin’s week of activities is not just for women, Dube strongly encourages men to participate in solidarity with all sexual assault survivors. “It is very important that men of all ages show their love and support for their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, nieces — all females who are near and dear to them and whom they want protected from sexual violence,” says Dube.

Events scheduled on campus throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Week are as follows:

  • Monday, April 8: The Clothesline Project, 12–2 p.m. and 7–9 p.m., in the Trautman Union Building (TUB): The Clothesline Project was established in 1990. Individuals affected by violence, or who know others who have experienced violence, are invited to express their feelings by decorating a shirt that will be displayed on campus as a testimony to the issue of violence against women. Members of the SMU Counseling Center, Residence Life and Campus Life will host the event and will be available to speak with participants.
  • Tuesday, April 9: Presentation on Title IX and sexual assault on college campuses, 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., in the TUB: Cynthia Johnson, Title IX coordinator for Saint Martin’s University, will discuss the various resources available to students, faculty and staff to combat sexual harassment. Participants will learn how to prevent sexual harassment on campus and what to do in the event they experience sexual harassment. In addition, members of the SMU Counseling Center and the Office of Campus Life will present the documentary film You are the One and host a discussion about it. The film explores sexual assault awareness on college campuses through the work of two activists, Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder, who each endured a sexual assault experience while in college and have since devoted themselves to building communities with zero tolerance for sexual violence.
  • Wednesday, April 10: Self-defense classes, 12–1 p.m. and 7–8 p.m., in the TUB: These two classes will be open to students, faculty, staff and members of the local community who want to learn basic self-defense moves and the actions to take when faced with dangerous situations.
  • Thursday, April 11: Take Back the Night candlelight march, 7–9 p.m.: The march is open to all members of the Saint Martin’s University and Thurston County communities. It will begin in the TUB with a keynote address by Mary Pontarolo, executive director of SafePlace Olympia, an advocacy agency and confidential shelter for survivors of domestic violence. “Ms. Pontarolo’s message will be one of aiming to break the silence for victims of sexual assault and abuse, and striving to speak out and report instances of sexual violence to law enforcement authorities,” Dube says. The march will extend across campus; at the conclusion, participants will be invited back to the TUB for refreshments and a closing activity.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Laurel Dube
Assistant director, campus life
360-486-8877; ldube@stmartin.edu

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager
360-412-6126; MDwyer@stmartin.edu