“We are here to take back the night,” rang out through the campus as students marched and chanted. Many were dressed in black shirts that read “Take Back the Night” to show their solidarity for victims of sexual assault.
The Women’s Center held the annual “Take Back the Night” march and vigil on April 14 to help raise awareness about sexual assaults on college campuses. Representative Angela Romero was in attendance at the afternoon march as the key note speaker.
“We need to have this honest conversation with young men and our young women: What is consent? What are healthy relationships? What are boundaries? So that we’re not here today talking about ‘Take Back the Night,’ because we’ve already taken it back before it took place,” Romero said.
The crowd stood silent as Beth Temple, Violence Prevention Lead Coordinator of the Women’s Center and sexual assault survivor, read a poem prior to the beginning of the march.
“We walk to celebrate this step we are taking to heal and support those who are healing. We remember those who have died from sexual assault and we empower those who have survived,” Temple recited.
The poem was followed by Lady Gaga’s song, “Till It Happens to You,” which was featured on the documentary “The Hunting Ground” about sexual assault on college campuses. The rain didn’t stop the group from marching to the Residence Hall. Handmade posters reading “Rape is not okay” were held high with each step taken.
Anne Olsen, Operations Coordinator for the Women’s Center, expressed how important “Take Back the Night” is for empowering individuals affected by sexual assault.
“It’s a really unique opportunity for folks on Weber’s campus,” Olsen said.
That same night, Weber State hosted a speak-out and candle light vigil as a part of the “Take back the Night” event. Volunteers made sure that the environment at the speak-out was a welcoming safe one.
During the event, free t-shirts, water bottles and brownies were offered. The room in which it was held had posters covering the walls with sayings like, “Rape happens here,” “Stop slut shaming,” and “Women deserve to feel safe on the street.”
Volunteers also handed out folders with information about Weber State’s counseling center, the Safe@Weber program, bystander intervention techniques and local women’s shelters. After this, there was a welcome introduction and artificial candles were held, while those in attendance listened to the song “‘Til It Happens to You” by Lady Gaga. Afterwards, survivors were given the opportunity to share their story.
Sexual assault is widely known for being common on university campuses. Weber State is helping to raise awareness on the issue and provide options to survivors that can help in the healing processes.
Olsen stated that the event was focused on story telling because of the strong effect it can have.
“Stories and situations are often silent or swept under the rug, so there is something really powerful in standing up and saying, ‘No, this happened to me; you need to listen to me,’” Olsen said.
Those working at the Women’s Center recognize the difficulties and dangers that come with survivors telling their stories and are doing what they can to change the situation.
Olsen explains that during the event, the Women’s Center tries to, “Give survivors a safe, brave place where they can speak out about sexual assault. It’s a way to come together and find people who are feeling the same things.”