Students march streets vowing to ‘Take back the Night,’ protesting sexual violence

Jinae West

A group of people gather by the rock for Take Back The Night last night. The event, sponsored by the Women’s Liberation Collective, is set up to help create a place free of sexual assault and abuse. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Meredith Craig, senior human development and family studies major, attended Take Back the Night for the first time last night with her friend, Rachel.

“I was raped in high school, and this is my first time here, too,” said Rachel, who declined to give her last name.

Craig said she came to show support for the cause and the real people, like Rachel, who are victims of sexual assault.

Take Back the Night is a rally against sexual violence. Last night’s march, sponsored by the Women’s Liberation Collective, drew approximately 40 people, both men and women.

According to Take Back the Night’s official Web site, “the unifying theme … is the assertion that all human beings have the right to be free from violence, the right to be heard and the right to reclaim those rights if they are violated.”

Craig said she knew four or five people this year who were sexually assaulted.

“For me, this is at least something I can do about it,” she said.

The march began at 10 p.m. on front campus. Members started the rally with short speeches about what constitutes rape and ways to prevent it.

“Rape isn’t always committed in a dark alley,” said Abby Hurley, junior architecture major and treasurer of the Women’s Liberation Collective. “Seventy-three percent of sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows.”

Hurley said this is especially important for women on campus to realize with Halloween activities coming up next week.

Members also spray painted the rock on front campus red and silver with the words, “Don’t hate, stop rape.”

The group made its way downtown, walking up and down Main and University streets. They chanted while holding candles in red plastic cups and homemade signs. One marcher kept the beat with a drum.

Before the march began, members warned the group it was “Thirsty Thursday,” and it was possible someone could become aggressive.

On University Street, people came out to watch the marchers on their front porches, several yelling jeering remarks and hassling the group.

“What do we want? Safe streets!” the marchers chanted through the insults. “When do we want it? Now!”

The march ended downtown an hour later at a member’s house for a speak-out where people from the Women’s Liberation Collective gave more information about sexual assault – statistics, definitions, personal stories and how it affects men and women.

Beth Vild, junior English major and steering committee member of the Women’s Liberation Collective, said Take Back the Night is a way to shed light on the seriousness and frequenting acts of sexual assault on college campuses.

“(Take Back the Night) can bring sexual assault to the forefront of issues at Kent State University since it happens here on a daily basis, and the university just tries to pretend it doesn’t happen because it’s not reported,” she said. “Like, 60 percent of sexual assault cases aren’t reported.”

“I think it’s really hard for women to speak out against it if they’ve been sexually assaulted. Like last year’s speak-out girls who came were completely in shambles, and this was the first time they’d been able to talk to anybody about it,” Vild said.

“Acquaintance rape is what’s most prevalent in Kent, and I think it’s a really difficult thing for women to deal with because they feel ashamed and that it’s their fault, even though it never is, and they should be able to speak out against it.”

So through the autumn cold and stillness of the night, the marchers continued to chant, “We have the power, we have the might! The streets are ours, take back the night!”

Contact campus reporter Jinae West at [email protected].