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MVNU works to combat sexual violence

MVNU Residential Life is hosting a series of events to unite the community against sexual violence while educating students, faculty and staff.

Through the events, MVNU also aims to open its arms to those isolated by the fear and shame of sexual violence.

“Take Back the Night is an important event because it is the first initiative on campus to actively combat sexual violence,” said Event Coordinator Brenna Gates.

Statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) show one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their college years.

Although rare, sexual violence has happened at MVNU. In 2015, two students reported experiencing sexual violence through MVNU’s Clergy Report.

“The hope of Take Back the Night is to encourage students to protect our community and the values we hold,” Gates said.

According to the Title IX Compliance section of the MVNU Student Handbook, Mount Vernon Nazarene University strives to foster and sustain a campus culture of respect and responsibility where sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship violence, and stalking have no place.

As a part of the Take Back the Night prevention and awareness initiative, MVNU’s Title IX office and Residence Life are sponsoring a series of events this week.

The events are meant to bring together students, faculty and staff and encourage them to take an active role in building an open, respectful culture, and preventing assault and violence.

MVNU kicked off the Take Back the Night activities on Monday. Professor Jay Mahan held a self-defense training session to teach students effective defense techniques.

Freshman Daria Swisher was thankful for the event and the techniques she learned.

“It was fun,” she said. “It makes me feel better about my ability to defend myself.”

Michelle Leighty agreed. “I’m not afraid to fight for the life that God has given me. The training and theme fit so well together,” she said.

Leighty hopes to see the classes implemented on a regular basis so people can learn to defend themselves.

Tuesday’s event was a Glow Run beginning at the eternal flame. The 5K runners wound their way through campus representing the effort and need to protect all parts of MVNU’s campus.

Oakwood’s Resident Director Kevin Peterson and the Oakwood staff led the 5K, promoting healthy physical activity while condemning destructive physical activity.

Take Back the Night activities continue, at 9 p.m. Wednesday when MVNU Student Life will host a Critical Conversations in Foster Hall. The focus of the talk will be “Sharing Students’ Stories.”

Various MVNU students will share their personal stories of sexual violence and its impact on their lives. Consent, reporting and resources available to survivors will also be addressed during the conversation.

On Thursday at 9 p.m., a Candlelight Vigil will acknowledge those who have faced sexual violence. MVNU students Kate Decker and Iwa Capobianco will lead a worship set and Heidi Brooks will give closing remarks.

The event will end with a paper lantern sendoff symbolizing “breaking the chains” of sexual violence with the support of a loving and supporting community.

Student mentor Brandon George encouraged students to get involved and be part of the conversation about sexual violence. There’s a tendency to deny that sexual violence occurs on the MVNU campus, he said.

“These events are important due to the lack of conversation in the mainstream of campus events,” George said. “We have a responsibility to seek to understand, inform ourselves and take action when we see something wrong.”

The Take Back the Night events “open the door for healthy conversation to take place,” he said.

For more information about Take Back the Night or MVNU’s stance on sexual violence contact Resident Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Tim Radcliffe at

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