Sexual and relationship violence support services host take back the night march

Students toss papers with names of perpetrators into a fire outside of the M.A.C. Center during Take Back the Night on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.

Carson Kleinman

More than 50 students gathered at the M.A.C. Center to join the Take Back The Night vigil and march on Monday.

Take Back The Night is an event hosted by the office of Sexual & Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS) to raise awareness and provide support for students affected by sexual assault. This event allows sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, along with their advocates, to speak out against abuse.

Jenell Cooks, a member of Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA), voiced that this event is a chance to “give people a sense of healing.”

Students have practiced marches since the 1970s to end sexual and domestic violence in all forms.

Jenna Solether, also a member of SASA, said that events and groups like these need more publicity and people need to speak out more to stop sexual assault. “We need to get the ball rolling,” she said.

As students arrived at the event they were handed a list of Take Back The Night chants and were given the opportunity to choose self-identifying armbands. These armbands came in seven colors. White arm bands were for allies, light blue for sexual assault victims, grey for victims of stalking, pink for sexual assault victims who identify with the LBGTQ community, dark blue for childhood sexual assault victims and purple for domestic and partner violence victims. Confidential advocates wore yellow armbands, identifying themselves to support any victims feeling overwhelmed with emotion during the event.

Alicia Robinson, Program Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Centers, opened Take Back The Night by thanking everyone who was in attendance for supporting the cause and making a difference. The event then kicked off with a name burning ceremony.

“This is a time for survivors to burn the name of the person who abused them,” Robinson said.

Students were given paper and pens to write down the names of  their abusers. Survivors, victims and advocates used this as a symbolic way of leaving their abusers in the past.

Robinson said, “We are one of the few schools who do the name burning ceremony.”

Following the name burning ceremony, guest speaker, Katie Hanna, from the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV), showing support by sharing her story and how she began her fight against sexual assault.

“There are wonderful people here on this campus to support you. Your voice is powerful. You are powerful,” she said.

Following Hanna’s speech, students took part in a candle-lit vigil. After each students candle lit their candle, students took a moment of silence, a moment of silence was taken for victims. Robinson then led the group in singing “This Little Light of Mine”.

At this point in the night, the march began. Students lined up with their list of chants and started their march through the darkness. The march circled a majority of the residence halls on campus, including Eastway, Koonce, Tri Towers, the Centennials, Prentice, Dunbar and Verder.

Marching students chanted in unison each of the Take Back The Night chants. Some of the chants included:

“Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no and yes means yes,”

“Women and men unite! Take Back The Night!”  “2-4-6-8 No more date rape!” and “Rape strikes 1 in 4! We won’t take it anymore!”

The night concluded with an optional, private speak-out session hosted by Laura De’Armond Szucs, Assistant Director of the Alumni Relations Outreach. The speak-out session started with the reading of previously shared stories to allow students to feel comfortable sharing their own and receiving support from their peers.

Students used this night as a great opportunity to heal, empower and raise awareness. Bystanders and those involved heard statistics and facts about sexual assault and were urged to make a difference. 

Carson Kleinman is the safety and transportation reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]