During the month of April, the Knights Against Violence (KAV) organized and hosted several events designed to bring awareness to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, and all forms of sexual violence.
KAV was formed through a grant that Neumann University received in 2019 from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. This three-year, $298,969 grant called for the university to develop a coordinated community response team to address issues pertaining to sexual, dating, and domestic violence. The effort was headed by Tiphane Purnell, Neumann’s program director for violence prevention and victim assistance.
The events kicked off on March 30 with the White Ribbon Campaign, a pledge by males to never commit, condone, or remain silent about all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination. KAV gave students white tee shirts and partnered with the men’s lacrosse team to host a white-out game.
On April 4, the Take Back the Night/The Clothesline Project was held on the Mirenda Center lawn. According to Purnell, more than 180 people attended this event, 65 percent being NU students. The evening featured a candlelight vigil for violence survivors and a one-mile walk, which Aston Township Police Officers led on bicycles.
Two speakers from the surrounding community and one student spoke about surviving sexual violence.
The Clothesline Project is a visual display of tee shirts with graphic messages and illustrations designed for women survivors of violence. People were encouraged to create their own shirts for the project.
“We had a lot going on, and it was a great night,” Purnell said. “This was the first Take Back the Night held by the Knights Against Violence.”
On April 6, KAV presented Neumann University’s first RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) Day program in the SMPH. Participants were asked to complete a sexual assault climate survey at this event which 192 students attended.
“These topics are not easy topics to discuss. It was very encouraging to see the turnout at these events. And it was even more encouraging to get the support from Athletics, like partnering with the lacrosse team for the men’s event,” said Purnell.
Upcoming events this week to conclude Sexual Assault Awareness Month include Taco Bout Consent, a panel discussion held in the Sora Luna Lounge on April 25. Representatives from the Delaware County Victim Assistance Center will be a part of the panel. Tacos will be served at the event, hence the name.
April 27 is National Denim Day. Everyone is encouraged to wear denim as an act of solidarity for victims and survivors of sexual assault.
Purnell is in the process of applying for a three-year extension to the DOJ grant. She hopes to be able to continue offering these programs and others relating to sexual assault awareness to the Neumann University community.