Social justice group works with Take Back the Night to light up campus

By Sara Agans

Staff Writer

 Social Justice Movements students want your input on where new lights should be installed on campus. Graphic courtesy of the GoFundMe page for the Social Justice group.

Social Justice Movements students want your input on where new lights should be installed on campus.
Graphic courtesy of the GoFundMe page for the Social Justice group.

A group of students enrolled in the social justice movements course, taught by Gloria Horning, UWF visiting lecturer in the Communication Arts Department, is teaming up with Take Back the Night to raise money for new solar-powered lights on campus.

“The premise behind the class was to show students in the Communication Arts Department various communication tools that can be used, especially in the non-profit world of making social justice issues understandable to the general public, because we all know that we have to speak to our target audiences,” Horning said. “Sometimes we miss the target audiences because we go straight to government, but it’s really about the people being involved, and I think students are the best to start this.”

Horning was given the opportunity to teach this class, which was the brainchild of the chair of the Department of Communication Arts, Kurt Wise. As part of the class, Horning had students pitch ideas on what they wanted to do for their target audience. The students came up with several ideas.

“One of the ideas is Take Back the Night, but they are doing something different than what the organization is already doing, and that’s the key,” Horning said. Take Back the Night is an international, non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual abuse, sexual assault and dating and domestic violence.

“The fundraising event was inspired by the Take Back the Night organization,” said Isabelle Murphy, UWF junior majoring in English literature. “Initially we were hoping just to work with the Wellness Center and help advertise for the campus event, but that has since evolved into an entirely different project. We are currently working towards installing solar lights on campus.

“We chose solar lights for a couple of reasons: They won’t cost the campus any extra in electrical fees; they are generally small and easier to set up than land-wired lights; each of the lights will cost about $75 after tax and mounting equipment charges.”

Murphy and the few other members of the group have been working with UWF Facilities Maintenance to set up the project.

“We’re hoping that by lighting up the campus – particularly in the dark areas between buildings and other commonly traveled areas – we can help cut back on the number of assaults that occur on campus,” Murphy said. “We set up a GoFundMe account for donations, at a goal of $1,000, which would buy at least 10 lights plus the plaques we want to buy for those organizations that donate enough for an entire light. So far we have two lights and are receiving more interest from organizations each day in hopes of reaching our goal by the end of March.”

“Our personal mission is to aid our campus in preventing sexual and violent crimes through the implementation of solar powered lights,” said Zachary Smith, UWF junior majoring in advertising. “There are many places around campus that are either dark or completely unlit. We have hung up maps around campus and asked the student body and staff members to mark places on the map that they felt were not safe.”

By the end of the semester, this group hopes to spread awareness on campus of not only Take Back the Night, but also the threat of sexual assault on college campuses.

“If an individual or organization donates the full $75 to purchase an entire light, we will honor them with a plaque, which we will present to them or place near the light,” Smith said. “The wonderful ladies of Zeta Psi Eta are actually the first Greek organization on campus to be awarded with a plaque.”

“This fundraising event is incredibly important for our campus, and it affects every single student,” Smith said. “We are relying on our students and campus organizations to make the purchase of these lights possible. No donation is too small to make a difference, and we are incredibly thankful for all the support for this project.”

The Save a Life, Buy a Light fundraising project deadline is March 31, 2016.