Take Back the Night sparks campus awareness

The campus echoed with the chant “shatter the silence, end the violence” on Tuesday, May 5 as the college community came together in the largest Take Back the Night at Colby to date. Take Back the Night is an international event and part of a weeklong program by the Colby Feminist Alliance at the College designed to bring awareness to issues of sexual violence on college campuses.

The week’s program culminates every year with a march from Pulver to Miller steps. The program establishes the Steps as a safe space where participants are invited to share their stories about sexual or gendered violence. “The students and other members of the community brought a really positive energy to the march and then created a very supportive space for our speakers on the steps,” Maggie Burgos ’17 said.

Laura Jensen ’17, co-president of the Feminist Alliance, said in an email correspondence that she was pleased with the event and that it sent a strong message to the campus. Jensen said that as an organizer and club leader that she was able to “help students realize that this issue is important and pervasive, but also [could] help them understand concrete steps to change the campus culture.”

Take Back the Night was co-sponsored by WOCA, MAV, SGA, GSD, SHOC and the Oak Institute. Many of the organizers were pleased with this year’s event. “I am really happy with the turnout for Take Back the Night this year. The strong showing from the campus athletic teams and other clubs in the Pugh Center helped us bring our message to ‘shatter the silence, end the violence’ to a broader range of people on campus” Burgos said.

Although the event has many supporters across campus, Grace DeNoon ’15, an organizer of the event and co-president of the Feminist Alliance, pointed out that the group often has to fight to secure funding. “To me, it is despicable that we even have to ask for help…It should be a priority for faculty, staff, and students and I do not believe it is yet. There are a few people in the aforementioned organizations that help, but that is not enough,” DeNoon said. Burgos supplemented DeNoon, stating, “Even if someone hasn’t been personally affected by an assault, we all are still affected by sexual violence…We really want people to engage with the issues…and consider how we can work to create a culture on our campus based on respect, trust, and consent.”

The week’s events are targeted toward a larger audience, with the Feminist Alliance marketing the event to the general student population. “I am also worried this is still relegated to a women’s issue. While women are disproportionately harmed by sexual assault, to ignore other narratives is dangerous and harmful,” DeNoon said. “We are still sometimes seen as angry feminists who are making a stink about something that is not that big of a deal. It is a big deal. It is a public health crisis and should be treated as such.” The Feminist Alliance was able to raised over $400 for Maine Sexual Violence Crisis and Support Center through the sale of Take Back the Night t-shirts.

Comments are closed.