Students march to 'Take back the night'
The OASIS Program hosted Take Back the Night at the Women’s Plaza of Honor on Tuesday in order to raise awareness about sexual assault and create a safe space for survivors to speak out about their personal stories.
The event began with 50 community agencies educating students about the services they provide. Students then led a march holding signs to tell bystanders about what they were doing and proceeded down Park Avenue to the Student Union Memorial Center and back to the plaza.
The march was followed by a performance by Dolce Voces A Cappella, community activist speeches, Esperanza Dance Project, UA student poetry performances and speeches from survivors.
Take Back the Night is held to show survivors of sexual assault that there are students all over campus who support them, said Sara Campbell, a senior studying family studies and human development and psychology.
Crowds participate in this year's Take Back the Night rally and march on Tuesday. The event included a speech by keynote speaker Leilani Clark, personal stories from survivors, resource information and a candlelight vigil.
“It tells them they are not alone and sexual assault impacts many students, either while attending the UA or before they came here,” Campbell said. “These survivors are not alone.”
Take Back the Night included a survivors-speak-out section that Campbell said impacts every person in attendance.
“It’s prominent and moving because you realize that all students are impacted [by] this issue,” Campbell said. “There isn’t just one stereotype; it includes many different people with different backgrounds.”
Malini Chauhan, a chemistry senior, said she thinks Take Back the Night is valuable because it allows people to speak out about an issue that typically invokes shame and secrecy.
“This event is about healing and empowerment, and it is the declaration of independence,” Chauhan said, “because we are saying we aren’t afraid of criminals, because rapists are criminals and we are not committing a crime by walking outside alone at night.”
One in five women has reportedly experienced sexual violence, according to a survey published in 2011 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Megan McKendry, a violence prevention specialist at OASIS, said that students who are victims of sexual assault are not alone and help is always available on campus, because there are so many people at the UA that care about them. OASIS provides many internship programs and volunteer opportunities.
“Sexual violence of any kind is wrong,” McKendry said, “so [OASIS] provides many different counseling services such as two free sessions, funding for survivors that can’t afford additional sessions and free group sessions at any time.”
— Follow news reporter Madison Brodsky on Twitter @BrodskyMadison