Two IUP Students Take the Lead for Take Back the Night

Posted on 4/7/2016 2:03:37 PM

Two Indiana University of Pennsylvania students have turned their passion for raising awareness about sexual assault and support for survivors of violence to a new level, including raising more than $5,100 in support of the Take Back the Night program.

Amy Kinneer, an early childhood-special education major from Champion, and Katharine McKinney, a criminology major from Indiana, are co-chairs of the annual Take Back the Night event on April 13, 2016. Take Back the Night includes a march through campus and a Speak Out in the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room.

The event is hosted by the Haven Project peer educators. The Haven Project is designed to increase and improve counseling and advocacy services for students who experience violence.

Take Back the Night T-shirts for 2016 march participantsTake Back the Night traditionally includes hundreds of students, employees, and community members marching through the IUP campus to show support for victims and survivors of violence. Participants are given a t-shirt to wear for the event. Shirts are distributed beginning at 7:15 p.m. in the Putt Hall-Delaney Hall courtyard, the starting point for the march. The march begins at 8:00 p.m. and ends at the HUB.

The Speak Out event offers survivors of violence the chance to share their stories, or provide support to others, while publicly affirming their transition from victim to survivor.

Kinneer designed the shirts for Take Back the Night, and was charged with getting event sponsors to provide financial support. Her original goal for sponsorships was $2,000.

“I’ve worked with the Haven Project for three years,” Kinneer said. “I’ve done a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, and this year was asked to serve as co-chair. As I kept getting ‘yes’ to requests for sponsorships, I kept increasing the goal. In the past, we’ve raised about $800, so I’m really happy about where we are this year.”

Kinneer also has been instrumental in the development of the “No More” campaign. This campaign features IUP employees (including IUP President Michael Driscoll and his wife, Becky Driscoll) and others pledging their support for “No more excuses, no more silence, no more violence” on posters with their photos displayed around campus. She has also developed buttons for supporters.

“I never expected this kind of response,” Kinneer said. “It’s been amazing. The volunteers keep coming.”

McKinney describes herself as the “behind the scenes” co-chair, providing technical support while training peers. She is a third-year peer educator and is a lead peer educator in the area of sexual assault.

“As a survivor, I knew I wanted to be involved in getting information out and building awareness. I’ve been a volunteer with Haven Project and with the Indiana County Domestic Violence Awareness Task Force.” She intends to continue with her volunteer work when she begins graduate study at IUP in the fall.

Kinneer, daughter of Deborah Kinneer and Gerald Kinneer Jr., is a 2013 graduate of Connellsville High School. She is a dean’s list student and provost scholar and has received the Aramark Meal Plan Scholarship and PHEAA Ready to Succeed Scholarship. In addition to her work with Take Back the Night and the Haven Project, she is a math tutor and works with the Special Needs Activity Program. She has volunteered with the Children’s Day of Play event, Indiana County Library Literacy Day, and Into the Streets service event. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and is assistant secretary and treasurer of IUP’s Co-op Board of Directors. She is a student worker in the Center for Health and Well-Being.

McKinney, daughter of Lisa Smith and Kenn Smith, is a 2012 graduate of Indiana Area High School. She is a dean’s list student and provost scholar and is the recipient of a 2014 Women’s Leadership Award. She is a member of the Cook Honors College. In addition to her work with the Haven Project and Take Back the Night, she also volunteers for the Indiana County Humane Society and Four Footed Friends.