Take Back the Night illuminates campus priorities

Bobbi Szabo

Raising our voices! Reclaiming our right! Kent State unites to “Take Back the Night”!

A group of over 60 members of the Kent community shouted this and other chants as they marched to protest violence against women.

The march took place last Monday, starting at the Student Green, traveled by the Centennial residence hall and ended at the Williamson House — the home of the Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services and the Women’s Center. Once there, the students lit candles, observed a moment of silence for the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking and sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

The moment was beautiful. After the passion of the chanting and the empowerment of marching with so many people in solidarity, the moment of silence reminded us why we were there.

I looked around the circle at the students, SRVSS office staff, faculty and community members, and I was overcome with emotion. Nothing is quite as powerful as seeing such a large group of people standing together for one cause.

Following the moment of silence, the group congregated in a meeting room in the Williamson House for refreshments and the pinnacle of the night: the Speak Out. The march’s participants were invited to share their experiences relating to power-based personal violence.

Although I will not allude to any of the stories or the people who told them — so as not to shatter the safety of the space that night — I will say the following: If you believe sexual assault, domestic-partner violence and stalking are not legitimate problems, you should hear the stories of survivors.

No one left the house that night with a dry eye. Empathy is powerful, and it is time we use such power to make change on our campus and in our world.

Although the event had the largest turn-out it has had in years, 60 people is not enough — especially considering the hundreds of students later in the night who went “clown hunting.” Why did students feel the need to hunt a non-existent clown, when those same students felt no need to protest violence in its cruelest form?

Think about it.

If we could mobilize hundreds of campus community members to protest power-based personal violence the way we mobilized for an imaginary clown, we could make a significant difference in our world.

This year’s “Take Back the Night” was undeniably a triumph, but there is still work to be done. So the next time you hear about similar events, show up, stand up and speak out against injustices.

Bobbi Szabo is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].