Students vow to ‘take back the night’ from violence

Christina Stavale


It was Ann’s first time taking a stand since being date-raped. For her, it happened at a party four months ago, and she said it’s taken her every bit of those four months to heal.

Last night’s “Take Back the Night” march was aimed to take a stand against date rape and other forms of sexual violence. About 60 people attended the march sponsored by the Women’s Liberation Collective.

Before the march began, Thisanjali Gangoda, sophomore biology major, explained to the group made up of women and men the purpose of “Take Back the Night” on a local and national level.

“We want to focus on women’s rights and raise awareness about rape and assault,” she said. “Women should not fear walking around at night.”

Ann, who requested her full name not be used, said by marching and taking this stand, she felt the best she’s felt in a long time.

“This is part of my healing,” she said, “to let him know that what he did was wrong.”

Ann said she was happy to see so many people taking a stand for something she feels so strongly about. In her freshman orientation class, for example, she said no one talked about what to do in such situations.

“They say Kent State is one of the safest campuses,” she said, “but that’s because no one reports (sexual assault).”

The march hit home for senior history major John Swistok, too. He said his sister had been raped and it “killed her emotionally.”

“It’s cool to bring light upon (sexual violence),” he said. “Hopefully something good comes of it because something needs to be done.”

He said he hopes the march will bring voices to the voiceless – those who have not reported rape or sexual assault.

For freshman English major Santina Cirino, the cause hit her on a less personal level, but she still felt compelled to speak out. Her mother worked in a court system just outside Cleveland, so she heard about sexual assault cases.

“I was exposed to what was going on,” Cirino said, “but not in a personal way.”

She said she wanted to attend the march to see what the issue was really all about.

Along the march’s path, students paused to hear representatives speak about rape in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, rape in the military and rape’s relevance to the Kent community.

Katie Troha, a member of the Women’s Liberation Collective steering board, said she was pleased this year’s turnout was so much higher than last year’s. She said she hopes the march served as a support network to victims and awareness to everyone else.

Ann, too, was pleased to see so many people join in the cause.

“I’m really glad to see Kent State taking a stand,” she said.

And through the night – down University and Willow streets – the group marched, taking a stand, amid taunting from groups of students living in the area.

“We are women. We are men,” they said, voices raised. “Together we fight to take back the night.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].