Sexual violence awareness: ‘Take Back the Night’

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By Austin Andersen

Tonight, Union will be hosting its annual “Take Back the Night” sexual assault awareness event organized by Safe Space.

There will be a campus-wide march beginning at the Nott Memorial; directly following this march there will be a “speakout” at Old Chapel where victims of sexual violence are invited to discuss their experiences.

According to the mission statement, the Take Back the Night Foundation “serves to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives. We seek to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence. TBTN empowers survivors in the healing process and inspires responsibility in all.”

Last year, Safe Space’s president Melanie Kramer ‘12 aimed to get each Minerva involved.

This year, the event will be slightly different. While the “speakout” at Old Chapel remains the same as always, the actual walk ahead of time has been changed.

“We tried to mix it up a little bit. [This year] we are doing a silent walk around campus and a bigger loop around the Nott. Each student will have a candle and will walk in silence to think about the issue at hand,” said treasurer and next year’s appointed president of Safe Space Shari Kram ‘13.

Take Back the Night rallies usually consist of candlelit processions through the streets to protest and raise awareness to not only eradicate repeated sexual violence crimes, but also as a way for victims to share their own stories.

The goal of “Take Back the Night” is simple: “These are important issues that are mainly talked about behind closed doors,” said Kram. “We want to encourage students to take this more seriously especially in relation to nightlife. We just want to encourage people to start talking about these things.”

Chair of the Sexual Assault and Harassment Committee and history Professor Andrew Feffer  noted “The point of Take Back The Night [here at Union] is not necessarily about controlling the public spaces at night around campus, as was its original purpose in the cities where the foundation was started, but more so to raise awareness for sexual assault here on campus in dorms, Greek houses, etc. We have the survey data that proves that sexual assault here on campus is quite prevalent, especially among females. Therefore, this is an event directed at raising awareness to this very serious issue here at Union.”

 

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