By Jordan Rickard
Take Back the Night is an annual event at K College and around the country that encourages students to engage in discussion about sexual violence and its presence on college campuses–but does this discussion continue the next week, or even the next day? This year’s Take Back the Night is trying to achieve greater attendance and to keep the discussion of sex and sexual violence to continue all year long.
One of the goals of Take Back the Night has been to teach the community that sexual violence doesn’t just effect survivors, but needs to be a concern of the entire campus. A group of students and professors have been working with the Arcus center in order to raise awareness. Sian Leach K’11 explained, “we’re talking about a task force trying to change the culture of sex and rape on campus. It’s really taboo and we don’t like to talk about it… We’re trying to use Take Back the Night as a springboard for that.”
In other years the number of male attendants has been an issue. Leach stated that, “there has been a lot of criticisms and a lot are that men just don’t show up. I think that’s what we’re struggling with. How to get more people connected to these issues.”
The organization of the men’s discussion group has been critiqued in the past, but steps are being taken to improve it. Leach explained that, “Andrew Tyner has expressed interest in leading the men’s discussion center. He’s with the Arcus Center and he’s really passionate about these issues.”
Another student, Melissa Bayci K’11, is working with the task force and is trying to get more student athletes involved with events like Take Back the Night. Bayci explained the importance of involving student athletes: “I’m an athlete. I’m friends with a lot of athletes. Athletes are 25% of this campus… if I can get backing from 25% of the campus, I’m going to do it.”
Take Back the Night also raises awareness that students on campus have been effected by sexual violence. Bayci said, “I’m a rape survivor. It happened on study abroad. I’m far enough in my healing process that I’m able to talk about it freely and I’m not ashamed or afraid of what happened.” She continued, “Yeah, you know this happens, but did you know it happened to me?”
There’s also increased influence of ongoing support in the community this year. YWCA speakers will be at the event explaining the resources they offer. There’s also potential for a RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) Day next year.
Bayci is also creating a support group for survivors of sexual assault that will probably be announced at Take Back the Night and Fliers will be posted around campus. “Survivors need an outlet to talk, and it can’t just be one night of the year,” said Bayci.