Hundreds of Niagara University students banded together with university employees and community members for a March 30 event that was held in conjunction with the Take Back the Night national movement, which aims to end sexual, relationship and domestic violence in all forms.
Co-sponsored by the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, the event featured dozens of resource tables, poster making and a brief program, and concluded with a student-organized march across campus and candlelight vigil. It brought together students and faculty members from several academic programs, especially counseling and criminology and criminal justice.
Dr. Debra Colley, Niagara University’s executive president, stressed how the Take Back the Night movement correlates with NU’s Catholic and Vincentian mission. She reminded attendees that “this is another opportunity to educate and mobilize ourselves as agents of positive change in the community.”
Serving as keynote speaker was Martha LaCorte, a rape victim who is now a crime victim specialist for the New York State Police.
“It has been my experience in my life, that often times when I’ve experienced tragedies and traumas, there always seems to be a little wisdom that comes at some point,” said LaCorte from the Gallagher Center podium. “In seeing all of you here, I think the wisdom is that we really have to stand by each other. We have to stand by each other, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart.”
Take Back the Night is a nonprofit charity with the mission of ending sexual violence in all forms, including sexual assault, sexual abuse, dating violence, and domestic violence. TBTN empowers survivors in the healing process, and has hosted events throughout the world for over 50 years.
This was the second straight year that the university sponsored an affiliated event. Such occurrences help survivors reclaim their voice and empower those who have been victimized, noted Dr. Jennifer E. Beebe, an assistant professor of counseling at NU.
“This year, we emphasized the power of bystander intervention,” said Dr. Beebe, who organized the event with Dr. Dana L. Radatz, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice. “Together, as a community we have the power to change someone’s story.”
All proceeds from the event were donated to the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, which is the certified provider of confidential crisis counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Niagara County. Among the organization’s numerous crisis service programs is a 24-hour crisis hotline staffed by trained professionals who provide an immediate response to assault victims.
Niagara University has been praised by New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul for its leadership in implementing “Enough is Enough” legislation and fulfilling Title IX requirements.
Tonight, NU is hosting National Football League Executive Vice President Troy Vincent, who will talk to students about standing up to domestic violence through honesty, responsibility and leadership.