Marywood unites against sexual assault


Students participate in a drum circle during the “Release the Light” program. Participating in similar activities provide abuse victims with creative ways of coping with trauma.

Robert Smith, Assistant News Editor

“Marywood unite, take back the night!” This chant was the motto of the “Release the Light” sexual assault awareness program held in the Fireplace Lounge of the Nazareth Student Center on April 18.

The program focused on the statistics of sexual assault, what constitutes this type of harassment, and preventative measures that can be taken. Marywood student Candy Doria said the most important thing about the program was that it made people aware of sexual assault.

“There are a lot of facts that people don’t know. They don’t know the reality of it,” said Doria.

The ceremony began with a mile-march around campus, where students and locals held signs and megaphones while chanting the program’s motto. The master of ceremonies for the program was WNEP Meteorologist, Kurt Aaron.

Speakers included Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Mariclare Hayes, Marywood’s own Fr. Brian Van Fossen, and Amanda Katchur, representative of the Red Flag Campaign. Katchur spoke about looking for signs, or “red flags” of relationship violence, which include an individual trying to control his or her partner as well as verbal insults.

“When you see a red flag, speak up,” said Katchur.

Tables covered with food and refreshments also featured boards with information on the “Release the Light” campaign, and relationship violence in general. Sitting at the tables were representatives from several University clubs and local organizations, including the Lackawanna County Women’s Resource Center, and the Tsunami Self-Defense Dojo.

At the center of the lounge, visitors signed a giant pledge card that read “We pledge to take a stand against violence of any kind!”

While the topic of the event was of a serious nature, the “Release the Light” program had some lighter moments, such as a drum circle organized by the Music Therapy Department, a balloon popping challenge, raffles, and prizes.

The “Release the Light” program, held during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is a stark reminder of the realities of relationship violence. According to a study by Teenage Research Unlimited, 1 in 5 teens report being assaulted by their partner.

The goals of the event, awareness, intervention, and compassion, could be summed up in the words of Fr. Brian Van Fossen. “Inside each of us dwells light, a goodness that can overcome any darkness, if we’re not afraid to let it shine.”