The University of West Georgia is joining ranks with other universities across the country to stop sexual violence as students, faculty, and staff get ready for the second annual Take Back the Night event on Monday, March 9, at 8 p.m.

For the second year, UWG students, staff, and area community members rally to speak out against sexual violence and make a personal commitment to keep men and women safe from sexual assault. This year, students are encouraged to Protect the Pack, as UWG launches a renewed initiative in this endeavor and partners with the White House’s It’s On Us campaign.

Monday’s collaborative event is expected to draw more than 400 students and will feature a 30-minute rally at the Campus Center HPE Gym at 8 p.m., where attendees will be treated to music, courtesy of WOLF Internet Radio and performances from students in the form of poems, stories, and music.

As part of the local campaign, a powerful public service announcement, featuring UWG Men of Courage, has been circulating among students and the community at large expressing the importance of speaking up against sexual violence and the ways in which it can be prevented. The gentlemen also encourage the UWG community to stand up and take the It’s On Us pledge.

Marcus Davis, one of the nominated Men of Courage included in the PSA states, “I think the campaign is important because it brings quite a bit of attention to the much overlooked issue of sexual assault. It educates quickly and concisely on what it is, and encourages us to help others when we see it. I strongly believe that knowledge is power, so I think that the more people are educated about this, the less this will happen.”

Davis and the other UWG Men of Courage will kick off the rally by reciting their lines in person.

UWG Health & Wellness Promotion Coordinator Elizabeth Butts says the goal of the rally is to change the mindset of young people and to educate them on the resources available.

“We hope for a shift in culture so that students aren’t tolerating this form of conduct,” Butts said. “We want them to know how to get help and become empowered because they know how to intervene.”

The event will feature vendor tables from many of the night’s sponsors, which include UWG Health Services, the West Georgia Rape Crisis Center, UWG’s Responsible Sexuality Committee, UWG’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and UWG’s Women’s Studies.

“This is one of the most inclusive events on campus because it’s an issue that crosses all boundaries, and students are coming together for a purpose,” Butts said.

Whether you come to the event or not, Butts said she wants everyone to know that UWG has resources to aid victims of sexual assault.

“Students can come to Health Services, where we have highly trained sexual assault nurse examiners and patient advocates who can help them control the situation. They don’t have press charges just because they come to us,” she said, “we’re simply here to give them the resources they need.”

Students can also contact their Resident Assistants (RAs), UWG Police, or Health Services after hours and be given a free ride to Health Services, where they will be met by a nurse and a patient advocate. Non-students and students alike can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go online to www.notalone.gov.

However, all of this information and more will be available Monday, March 9, at the Take Back the Night Rally, where we can “Shatter the Silence!” and “Stop the Violence!” as a community. Watch UWG’s Men of Courage PSA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzRAjbcOE_4 and attend the rally to see a brand new message from UWG’s Empowered Women!

Posted on Friday, March 6, 2015