NIU community invited to ‘Take Back the Night’

Participants march in NIU’s 2008 Take Back the Night event

The Northern Illinois University campus community is invited to join in this year’s “Take Back the Night” evening march promoting an end to violence against others, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Advocacy groups are scheduled to speak before participants march together though campus and surrounding streets to raise awareness for domestic violence.

Sponsored by the Women’s Rights Alliance, Women’s Studies Program and Women’s Resource Center among others, the annual event raises awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, helps spread the message that these acts will not be tolerated in the community and promotes a society where all people are safe and respected, including women, children, the LGBTQ community, minorities, and people with disabilities.

“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be supporting such an important event on campus. Students participating in Take Back the Night feel empowered and that they have a voice,” explained Lisa Schmidt, acting director of the NIU Women’s Resource Center. “Last year’s event was energizing and powerful. When we were marching through campus, people gave us shout-outs of support from campus buildings and even driving by from their cars. I am really excited to be part of it again for this year.”

Those wishing to participate are asked to meet in the Martin Luther King Commons, located at the south end of the Holmes Student Center.

According to Kristen Myers, associate professor of Sociology at NIU and director of Women Studies, events such as the one at NIU began on college campuses in the 1970s. She pointed out that night-time was a particularly unsafe time for women, because of the increased likelihood of their victimization– on dark sidewalks, in parking lots, in empty computer labs, etc.

“Take Back the Night reclaims the night as a place of solidarity rather than fear– where women and allied men march together in support and resistance,” said Myers. “Because of movements like Take Back the Night, campuses like NIU’s now have emergency phones and escort services. So the movement has not only brought people together in solidarity, it has affected campuses’ infrastructure in a positive way.”

NIU has an extensive network of emergency assistance call boxes located throughout campus in well-lit areas, including the Campus Parking Deck and all elevators. The call boxes are connected directly to the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety and are monitored 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, including all holidays.

The call boxes can be used to:

• request help

• report a crime

• report suspicious activities

• request an escort

• any other type of emergency

Students and other members of the university community should learn the location of these call boxes and should walk with companions. NIU’s Department of Police & Public Safety sponsors several services for students who do not wish to walk alone or who need assistance.

The Huskie Student Patrol is a weeknight walk safe program that operates between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. During this time frame, students can contact the Huskie Student Patrol at 815-753-9658, and a trained member of that organization will meet and escort them to residence halls, parking lots, or any other destination on or near campus. This service is provided free of charge.

The Late Night Ride Service provides no-questions-asked rides to NIU students to and from any location in the greater DeKalb-Sycamore area. The service operates every day between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Drivers are trained members of the Department of Police & Public Safety’s Security Guard Unit and are dispatched by the department. The vans can accommodate up to seven passengers and are wheelchair accessible. To arrange a ride, students should call 815-753-2222.

The Department of Police & Public Safety is also available to provide motorist assistance to those on campus who have locked their keys in their car, need to jump start their battery, or require help changing a flat tire. For assistance call 815-753-1212.

The university maintains a TipLine based in part upon the International Crime Stopper Program. It provides callers with the opportunity to report information about illegal activities and/or violations of the Student Code of Conduct, without revealing their identity. To report information, call 815-753-TIPS (8477).

Northern Illinois University is recognizing Crime Prevention Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Fire Prevention Week during October. All month long, the university plans to promote awareness of the safety programs it has in place as well as offer safety tips for the university community.

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