On Monday, May 2, Take Back the Night will be held on the quad as it has for years, but with many structural changes. Although the event—which looks to provide a space for students to speak about experiences with sexual violence—has often been run through Progressive Organization of Women Engaged in Revolution (P.O.W.E.R.), a former student organization, it will be put on this year by a committee of students from different areas of campus.
“TBTN has, in the past, as fantastic as it has been for a select group of people…—mainly cis, white women—it has kind of failed to really look at the nuances of sexual assault,”
said Mireya Guzmán-Ortíz K’17, a member of the TBTN committee as well as the Sexual Safety and Support Alliance Team (S3A). “Around 30 percent of the school is classified under people of color and S3A, P.O.W.E.R and all these organizations on campus that are associated with TBTN or any kind of sexual safety…. they have been historically associated with very white feminism or second wave feminism and TBTN has continued that association and made it stronger.”
Because of this, Guzmán-Ortíz and Emily Kowey K’16—another member of the TBTN committee and S3A—reached out to different student organizations, including the Latino Student Organization, the Black Student Organization, and the Kalamazoo Outing Club to “have as many types of people involved,” Guzmán-Ortíz said.
“It’s really benefited the planning process because we just have a wider reach on campus and more connections to different organizations,” said Isabelle Ciaramitaro K’16, a member of the committee and S3A.
They also tried to get a representations of different classes and have students from all four years on the committee.
“[It’s] nice to have the juniors and the seniors who have been here and see how Take Back the Night has been successful in the past and areas it needed to improve,” Kowey said after explaining the importance of hearing new voices from first-years and sophomores.
The committee has decided to change the second part of TBTN, which in the past has been comprised of separate activities for a female-identifying group and a male-identifying group.
“At the first committee meeting everybody agreed that that setup wasn’t the best setup simply because not everybody is a woman, not everybody is a man, not everybody feels comfortable in those spaces,” Guzmán-Ortíz said. “Also, not every sexual assault happens in the heterosexual setting.”
According to Kowey, the “sharing space” will resemble what the female-identifying space has been in the past and “the other will be a discussion space and that’s going to look like ‘okay this is a problem on our campus even though the administration doesn’t like to talk about it and it’s a problem in the community and it’s a problem around the country.’” Everyone will be welcome to join either of these spaces.
The event will begin with tabling by representatives of community and campus organizations including Planned Parenthood and the YWCA at 6:15 p.m. The speakers will go on at 7:00 p.m. The “sharing space” and discussion will begin at 8:15 p.m., during which there will also be resources such as S3A in the cavern to speak with students.