The Indiana University of Pennsylvania Women's Commission with the IUP Center for Student Life, Health AWAREness, and the Haven Project will observe domestic and sexual violence awareness month in April with the annual “Take Back the Night” event April 16.

The program will take place starting with an awareness program at 5:00 p.m. at IUP's Hadley Union Building Ohio Room, followed by a reception from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the HUB atrium, and candlelight march through IUP and downtown Indiana starting at 8:00 p.m. The event will conclude with a special “Speak Out” event in the HUB Delaware Room.

In addition to the April 16 “Take Back The Night” programming, the IUP Women's Commission is sponsoring a special basket raffle to benefit the Alice Paul House, a local sexual assault and domestic violence center.

More than forty baskets have been donated by individuals and organizations. The baskets will be on display as follows: March 31 – April 3 at Foster Dining Hall; April 7 – 9 at The Atrium, on Philadelphia Street in Downtown Indiana; and April 10 – 16 at the Hadley Union Building. Baskets items range from “a taste of Indiana” (gift certificates from area restaurants) to spa and gardening items to IUP Crimson Hawk merchandise. Winners need not be present to win. Basket winners will be announced as part of the program on April 16.

In addition to the basket raffle, the IUP Women's Commission will be placing boxes across campus for collection of items for the Alice Paul House from April 1 through 15. Items requested include old cell phones (to be reprogrammed for emergency use), writing journals, sweat suits, flip-flops, toiletries, hairbrushes, and gas cards.

The IUP Libraries also will feature a special book display on the subject of domestic and sexual violence and stories about survivors in the lobby of Stapleton Library throughout April.

Featured speakers for the April 16 “Take Back the Night” program include Mary Beth Buchanan, United States attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and acting director of U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women; Indiana County Domestic and Family Court Judge Carol Hanna, who will speak on local issues related to domestic and sexual violence; Jennifer Storm, executive director of the Victim-Witness Assistance Program in Harrisburg and author of Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America; Malinda Cowles, associate director of IUP's Center for Student Life-Health AWAREness; Lou Ann Williams, executive director of the Alice Paul House; and IUP students Denise Real and Shaun Murphy, Haven Project representatives. Murphy also is a member of MAP, IUP's Men's Awareness Project.

The Haven Project, started in 2004 with funding from the Department of Justice, is a comprehensive program designed to address the needs of women who are victims of violence and to improve efforts to prevent violence against women.

The Haven Project is a partnership of IUP's Center for Student Life/Health Education and Advocacy, University Police, Indiana Borough Police, and the Alice Paul House. The project is also designed to improve services for female students who are victims of violence by expanding on-campus counseling services.

In addition, the project expands victim-intervention services and advocacy through the Alice Paul House, and works to improve campus criminal investigation and adjudication processes.

The reception, to be held from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the HUB atrium, will feature displays and awareness materials, including an “An Empty Place at the Table,” in memory of women who have been killed as a result of domestic or sexual violence.

The march will begin at the Hadley Union Building. T-shirts will be available for all walkers and are provided through funding from S&T Bank. The march will take place regardless of weather, with rain ponchos provided as needed by Wal-Mart.

For more information about the events, contact Marie Ruddock, IUP Women's Commission, at 724-357-4456 or via e-mail at

Source: IUP Media Relations