April 2021 marks the official 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to commemorate the anniversary, the Western Illinois University Women’s Center 31st annual Take Back the Night event will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 15 at the Sherman Hall circle Annual Take Back the Night Rally Set for April 15 At Western Illinois Universitydrive. Participants must wear masks and socially distance.

The annual march and rally is held to increase awareness of — and seek an end to – sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking and other forms of sexual and power-based interpersonal violence, as well as to remember and honor victims and survivors. This year’s event, “Shed Light, Join the Fight,” will start with a resource fair at 5 p.m., with the rally and march to Chandler Park beginning at 6 p.m. Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA) Victim Services and University Counseling Center staff will be available throughout the event. Individuals who need accommodations to participate should contact the Women’s Center at mcc@wiu.edu prior to the march to sign up to ride in a van that will be provided.

“You are stronger than whoever tried to hurt you. Take back your strength and join us in this fight as we shed light to take back the night,” said Trameka Pope, WIU Women’s Center graduate assistant and coordinator of the 2021 Take Back the Night.

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Individuals interested in sharing their story during the survivor speak-out at Chandler Park, but are unable to attend in person, should complete the secure and confidential My Story Google Form {https://forms.gle/fepVtDsXCvamCKuc9 } prior to the April 15 event. While anyone can speak at the Chandler Park event, the Google Form is for those who cannot physically attend the rally and speak-out. Their story will be read by event organizers.

“In this season, may you rediscover dance, laughter and love. Shed light, join the fight and take back the night,” added Aleezah Washington, WIU Women’s Center graduate assistant and Take Back the Night committee member.

Part of the Women’s Center’s mission is to promote opportunities to celebrate women, collaborate in programming and outreach, and seek Annual Take Back the Night Rally Set for April 15 At Western Illinois Universityunity and understanding. The Take Back the Night Planning Committee, composed mostly of student volunteers, has been working with WIRC-CAA Victim Services, various student organizations and WIU departments to bring the campus together to raise awareness for a ubiquitous issue.

Other events taking place throughout the week include:

Monday, April 12
The Clothesline Project, 2-5 p.m., WIU Multicultural Center.
A Women’s Center collaboration with WIRC-CAA Victim Services. A visual display of survivors’ t-shirts to depict their struggles and feelings dealing with trauma. A student art exhibit by senior art major Keosha Westphal will also be featured at the event.

Tuesday, April 13
The Clothesline Project: Making T-Shirts, Noon-2 p.m., WIU Multicultural Center. Guests can design a t-shirt to add to the Clothesline Project.

Wednesday, April 14
Take Back the Night Proclamation Signing, 1 p.m., WIU Multicultural Center. WIU President Guiyou Huang, Mayor Mike Inman, WIRC Executive Director Tracy Camden and the Take Back the Night Committee will sign a proclamation declaring Take Back the Night.

Buffalo Wild Wings Fundraiser, 4-9 p.m.
Dine at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Macomb to support WIRC-CAA Victim Services.

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Annual Take Back the Night Rally Set for April 15 At Western Illinois University
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.