About 100 students and community members gathered at Traditions Plaza on Thursday night for Take Back the Night in support of survivors of sexual assault, abuse and violence.
The group marched a lap around campus, chanting, “Claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand, take back the night.” Participants carried colorful signs bearing messages of support.
The event was presented and organized by Stronger Together against Relationship and Sexual Violence, a student organization within the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.
“[Sexual assault] is an issue that needs to be addressed,” senior Marlon Taylor said. “In order to make a difference, you have to step up and be the change you want to see.”
After the march ended, participants gathered back at Traditions Plaza for the “Speak Out” portion of the evening. Those impacted by sexual and relationship violence told their stories, some for the first time ever.
Freshman Sadie Ritter decided to attend the event after one of her friends was given a date rape drug at a bar.
“It made me want to take a stand and tell people what goes on out there,” she said.
In addition to garnering awareness and support, Take Back the Night also raised money for True North, a domestic and sexual violence shelter, and Leadership through Education & Advocacy for the Deaf (L.E.A.D), a resource center for those with disabilities. These programs typically receive funding from the Vagina Monologues, an event put on by the RSVP and women’s centers, but this event did not happen this year. In order to recoup these funds, T-shirts were sold at the event.
Since the 1970s, Take Back the Night has worked to eliminate and prevent sexual violence.
Katryna Sardis, a graduate assistant for the RSVP Center, has been overseeing preparations for the event all semester.
“I think it’s important because it gives students the right to reclaim their voice and it gives students a space to say what has happened to them or to someone they know, [and Take Back the Night] also gets the message about the resources out on a large scale,” Sardis said.
Edited by Sarah Hallam | firstname.lastname@example.org