GVSU reclaims the night

Erin Grogan

Eyes Wide Open will be hosting the 10th annual Take Back the Night event at Grand Valley State University on Oct. 16 as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Michele DeVoe Lussky, an adjunct writing professor at GVSU, will be the keynote speaker at the event and will talk to attendees about defining their boundaries, creating their unique identities, and writing their own stories.

“I think she is a great fit for the event because she is a community member who understands the dynamics of not only our region, but more specifically our campus,” said Colleen Unsworth, treasurer and fundraising chair of Eyes Wide Open. “Her past experiences also help her to bring passion into her talk.”

Take Back the Night is an internationally held march and protest, which is intended to be direct action against sexual violence. After Lussky speaks, those attending the event will be led on a march around campus.

“This event spreads awareness about the issues surrounding and long-term effects of sexual violence,” Unsworth said. “It is a way to empower victims and survivors in their healing process, as well as to help other people identify their passion to end violence and help those who are hurting.”

Jo Ann Wassenaar, associate director of the Women’s Center, said the center is supporting Eyes Wide Open and its involvement in this event.

“We want to increase the conversation about sexual violence,” Wassenaar said. “People need to be aware that it’s not just women who experience sexual violence—more and more young men are reporting it, as well.”

Wassenaar said she is impressed by the amount of conversation about sexual violence this year. “There has been an increased presence of talking,” she said. “I hope it continues to grow. We can’t come to a solution without a conversation.”

Eyes Wide Open is a student activist organization at GVSU that aims to increase awareness and dispel myths about sexual violence. Though Take Back the Night will be held on campus, community members are welcome to attend.

“This event is known to bring out the passion in most everyone who attends, regardless of their past experiences with any of the topics involved,” Unsworth said. “It is a very powerful experience that can change the way people see the world.”

Before the event starts, the organization will be holding a fundraiser at the Dairy Queen in Allendale, Unsworth said.

Eyes Wide Open is also hosting the Clothesline Project in collaboration with GVSU’s Women’s Center. The Clothesline Project, a collection of t-shirts with designs and messages from survivors of sexual violence, will be on display from noon to 5 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center on Oct. 14.

Take Back the Night will begin at 7 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center.

For more information contact the Women’s Center at 616-331-2748, or visit www.gvsu.edu/women_cen.