The Social Work Club concluded their annual
Take Back the Night Week with a March for Victims of Domestic Violence. Students, faculty, and the community gathered with signs, banners and tee shirts designed to raise awareness for the cause.
Dr. Mark Lynch, chair of the
Social Work program, started Take Back the Night at SFU in 1996 after attending an event in Blair county. “We started going to different national conferences and domestic violence is one of the areas everyone was especially interested in. The students who went with me that first year loved the idea of hosting a Take Back the Night event, but they didn’t think one day was enough. The following year we did a 2-day event at SFU. Now we have a full week of events.”
“We find it very important to bring awareness to domestic violence and to all types of violence,” said Brianna Dixon, Social Work major and President of the Social Work Club. “TBTN originally started with just violence against women, and it’s now starting to grow to violence against all persons. It hits home for a lot of people.”
Cindy Estep, guest speaker at the March for Victims and advocate with
Blair County-based Victim Services, Inc., voiced her support in an interview with the Tribune Democrat. “These students are opening up something that was dark, putting light on it and saying no more,” said Estep. “It’s just like we’re seeing with the
#MeToo movement – by shedding light on this, all it takes is for one person to stand up and say ‘No More’ and it can bring out thousands of other voices.”
The students in the Social Work Club collaborated for two months to organize the TBTN events, scheduling the speakers and marketing on social media and throughout the community. “We all took different roles and contribueed in some way,” said Social Work student Ben Mostoller.
Their efforts aligned with the Social Work program’s core curriculum. “We have different classes that address the needs of marginalized individuals,” said Dr. Lynch. The students are learning community organization skills which are very important in social work, and have become comfortable interacting with and empowering individuals who have gone through difficult times.”
Social Work students often utilize courses from the Women’s Studies program to learn about family structure and marriage, both of which play a significant role in the social work profession. “It’s very important for us to learn those things, because we all have different fields that we want to go into,” said student Bri Guy. “Some of us want to work with adoption agencies, victim services, or families. The classes we take tie everything together.
In addition to the March for Victims, TBTN Week sponsored guest speakers, free self-defense classes, a “Walk in Her Shoes” March for high-heeled-adorning men, and educational programs. One such program was the Clothesline Project, which allowed students to make tee shirts with messages of hope and personal connections to domestic violence. The colorful shirts offered a powerful visual representation of the silence surrounding the issue, and the often painful healing process that victims are subject to.
In addition to Take Back the Night Week, the Social Work program provides its students with many opportunities to gain work experience in their future field, such as agency internships and their annual charity golf tournament to raise money for
Cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
“We do our best to educate the students and people who attend our events,” said Dr. Lynch. “We have a whole society that’s finally opening their eyes to these issues. They’re talking about the problem, but they don’t yet know the solution. That’s where we come in.”
Photos from Take Back the Night 2018:
Social Work at SFU
SFU Counseling Services
Donate to the Take Back the Night Foundation