SPARKS and the GLC host Survivor Week Kickoff

The Tuesday tabling event was held to promote “Take Back the Night,” which takes place virtually on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m.

Throughout the week, the Gender and LGBTQIA Center (GLC) and Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, and Success (SPARKS) have partnered to bring awareness to the Elon Community about Survivor Week, a week dedicated to bringing awareness to sexual assault. The organizations kicked off the week by showcasing the resources available to survivors of sexual assault, including the survivor speak-out event, “Take Back the Night.”

On Tuesday, March 22, representatives from the GLC, SPARKS, Elon Counseling Services, the Truitt Center, and Students Promoting Awareness, Change, and Empowerment (SPACE) gathered on Medallion Plaza to answer questions about “Take Back the Night,” Title IX, and consent education.

Anita Hodnett, right, Director of Counseling Services at Elon University spoke with students at a kick-off event for Supporting Survivors Week, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at Medallion Plaza. The event had representatives and information from campus and community organizations with the goals of preventing and responding to incidents of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. (Rob Brown photo)

Those who visited the tables had the chance to play a consent-themed trivia game, pick up self-care goodie bags and treats, and learn more about the variety of wellness resources available to Elon students. This is the first time that Survivor Week has begun with a tabling event.

The “Take Back the Night” speak-out event took place on Thursday, March 24. The event, which was held virtually this year, is a space for survivors of sexual assault to share their stories, find community and allow for students to feel empowered and supported.

“We normally do a resource fair after ‘Take Back the Night,’ but this year with it being virtual, we wanted to make sure students were able to see faces and meet people who can help support them as well as have access to resources around campus,” said Ollie McGowan ‘24, a student assistant at the GLC.

SPARKS peer educators were present at the tabling event to provide free safe sex supplies and consent education information. The SPARKS program partners with dozens of campus and community partners to host wellness-related events, educational programming and campaigns throughout the year on various health and well-being topics.

“A lot of our work is within the classroom and doing requested presentations talking about mental health, sexual health, and substance education,” said Emily Burgess ‘23, a SPARKS peer educator team leader.

These events provide community spaces for survivors of sexual assault, while also inviting allies across campus to show their support and expand their knowledge.

“This week is about shifting the community culture to supporting survivors and empowering them to seek resources,” said McGowan. “We hope that through our events students are able to start challenging rape culture within their friend groups, classrooms, and workplaces.”

More information about Take Back the Night, and other resources available, can be found here.