Taking Back The Night To End Sexual Violence

Transcending every culture and community, sexual assault is an issue that affects countless people. On college campuses alone, one in four women and one in eight men are affected by this particular kind of crime.

As the Health and Wellness Crew proclaimed earlier this year, it’s on us as a university to continue the conversation until each and every one of our voices is heard.

Take Back the Night is originally an international event with the mission to put an end to all forms of sexual violence and abuse. On Tuesday, April 28, HAWC will be hosting its annual version of the event starting
in STCN 160.

“I attend this event every year. Like most social issues, what’s really heartbreaking for me is that we have to bring awareness to this issue in the first place,” said junior Trina Vasquez. “I don’t understand why people need to be told that sexual assault is not okay.”

Different from past years, the event will start at high energy with a march beginning at 7 p.m. Led by Jimmy McCarty from Campus Ministry, the crowd will go through the lower mall on campus then back down on 12th Ave. Following the march will be an interactive candlelit vigil back in STCN 160 at 7:35 p.m.

Proceeding at 8 p.m. will be the speakers for the evening. Professor Christina Roberts and Professor Gary Perry will be leading the discussion and, according to HAWC, will bring to light how disproportionately women and communities of color experience sexual violence as well as the complexities for survivors in knowing the person who assaulted them.

“I think they’re going to bring really unique perspectives to Take Back the Night that we maybe haven’t done as well a job at representing those voices in the past,” said Kara Ortbal, HAWC Lead Student Coordinator for Take Back the Night.

To conclude the event, there will be an open mic at 8:30 p.m., where the community will have the opportunity to creatively express what they think and feel about the topic.

HAWC plans on following these time deadlines to ensure that people can drop in whenever they can and are aware of what specifically will be going on for that portion of the evening. Because the topic of sexual assault is triggering for many individuals, they hope to be as inclusive as possible with this event.

“Take Back the Night is important because it provides a unique space that supports survivors of sexual assault and honors their stories,” said sophomore HAWC member Winnie Chan. “It is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and sexual assault prevention on college campuses is something that needs to be talked about and addressed.”

HAWC members are dedicated to ensuring projects and events such as this are successful.

“Personal experience with sexual assault and experience from people around me makes me passionate about taking this project on,” Ortbal said. “Ending sexual violence is really what keeps me going for this event.”

Previous events like the “It’s On Us” campaign started this past fall and the Clothesline Project that precedes Take Back the Night by a few weeks are also transforming and emboldening the community to rally together and combat abuse.

“It’s a tragedy that people have to walk down the streets at night with even an inkling of fear of being assaulted,” said sophomore Chris Wysocki.

For students like sophomore Rukhsar Palla, this fear is something she faces frequently when walking off campus.

“I am sick and tired of having random people try to talk to me on the street whether it’s midday or nighttime because I don’t need strangers trying to talk to me and make me uncomfortable in a place that I call home,” Palla said.

Take Back the Night began in 1970s and remains prevalent throughout the world today. Common to each event is the march to symbolically walk through darkness to demonstrate resistance against sexual assault.

Initially, the marches protested the violence that women suffered from while walking at night, but the mission has since evolved to include all victims of sexually violent crimes committed. The movement continues to support other feminist concerns and awareness toward domestic abuse crimes.

At the event, HAWC will work with the rest of the Seattle U community to raise voices against sexual assault.