Kent State women take back the night

Lauren Vogel

Katie Koestner, the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally, addressed a packed audience of men and women in the Kent State Ballroom last night to kick off Kent’s Take Back the Night.

Koestner, who at first seemed timid, approached the podium and spoke slow, letting every word of her story sink in. Her quiet voice was overtaken by her loud message she shared with the crowd.

“I don’t want your pity; I want your strength,” said Koestner. “I want the next time that you feel disrespected, that you say something. I want the next time that someone is objectifying someone else, that you say something. I want the next time somebody makes a joke about rape, that you’re not afraid to say, ‘I don’t find that very funny.’”

As a freshman in college, Koestner met someone at her college who swept her off her feet. He took her to a French restaurant, ordered in French and then asked her to join him at his family’s island home in Greece for the summer. Koestner trusted him and invited him back to her dorm. After he raped her, she spoke out.


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She left her college and ended up returning, but upon her return, was harassed by other students. All that happened to him, was that he wasn’t allowed back in her dorm for the remainder of his time at the university (even after he beat the girlfriend that followed her). She recalled having to graduate with him, in the same room, as if nothing happened.

After Koestner finished speaking, almost the entire audience moved out to Risman Plaza to start the Take Back the Night march through campus.

Julia Grabosky, a freshman education major, felt that Koestner’s words were emotional and really touched her.

“I’ve never had that happen to me or know anyone that’s experienced that so it’s kind of hard to listen to, but it’s nice to learn something about that,” Grabosky said.

Marissa Gargano, a sophomore speech pathology major, thought Koestner was an amazing speaker.

“I wasn’t going to (participate in the march) but her words were just really inspiring,” Gargano said.

The crowd starting marching through campus chanting, “Hey-hey, ho-ho sexual assault has got to go,” and others like, “Mother, daughter, sister, friend: Help make the night safe again!”

The group would stop to read a statistic about rape or sexual assault, a poem or sing a song about a survivor’s experience. Onlookers stopped to see what was going on, and some took pictures on their phones.

Brittani Castle, a sophomore biology and pre-med major, enjoyed Koestner’s speech and said the extra credit opportunity that brought some people to the event was not what brought her.

“I’m actually here in support of a family member who experienced rape, and I know it still affects her today,” Castle said. “This was an empowering thing for me.”

As the marchers moved down Main Street, Amanda Roder, a graduate student with the Women’s Center, expressed how much she enjoyed Koestner’s speech. She loved how she is able to tell her story in a way that touches people and makes them want to join the cause.

“I am so excited about the amount of people that came out for Katie and then decided to stay and are marching around campus,” Roder said. “It’s just so great.”

Tomorrow night, Take Back the Night will continue with a candlelit vigil, name burning and lighting of one of the Ten Points of Light. Ten Points of Light is an effort by the Take Back the Night Foundation to bring light to sexual assault nationally. This is the first year that Kent State has been asked to be one of the ten points.

Contact student life reporter Lauren Vogel at [email protected].

The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project is a collection of shirts with messages and illustrations designed by survivors of violence. Friends and families of survivors and victims of sexual assault are also able to create shirts in honor of loved ones who have been affected.

The Women’s Center at Kent State has started their own clothesline that has been displayed at all of their events this month. Different colors represent the nature of the assault.

Among some of the ones displayed was a white tank top (signifying a woman who has died because of violence) that read, “Mommy, Please don’t make me go over to daddy’s house anymore. Please! I love you.”

A pink shirt displayed the message of a survivor of sexual assault that read, “What you did to me that night was inexcusable … You took my innocence, shamed me, blamed me and made me feel worthless … I will not be your victim. I am a survivor!”

This project serves as a way to witness survivors and victims of the war against women. It also helps with the healing process for those who are survivors and for those who have lost a loved one to violence.