As the Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) gears up for Take Back The Night, the VAWPP Ambassadors (organizers of the event) have been working hard to recreate the magic they experienced their first time attending such a movement.
Take Back The Night is an event promoting feminism and solidarity among survivors of gender based violence and supporters of the movement alike to promote unity among UConn students who stand against it.
It is an annual event held in April for sexual assault awareness month in which survivors can speak about their experiences and students can march around campus holding candle lights. It’s a call to action for people at the University of Connecticut to participate in the wider conversation about these sensitive issues.
Asahi Hoque, VAWPP ambassador and molecular and cell biology and human rights major with minors in political science and women’s gender and sexuality studies, said “We don’t really think about gender based violence affecting us, because we hear about it but we don’t necessarily associate it to people in our lives. Recognizing that it does happen in our community, as well as what we can do to challenge social norms that perpetrate gender based violence—that what hopefully this event is providing to the community.”
Hoque believes that hearing people’s stories and relating to them in an environment that promotes unity against such violence happening again is “empowering” and “inspirational.”
The night is meant to motivate people to do something about the problem that exists not only at UConn, but on college campuses across the nation. “Together, when we’re learning about it, talking about it and working against it—that’s the big deal about Take Back The Night,” said Hoque.
“This event is important because it really provides a voice for survivors — a space for them to share. It’s really important to listen to survivors and let them let their story and I think by listening to them, we can make more change,” Jacqueline Pagano, VAWPP ambassador and senior communications major minoring in women’s gender and sexuality studies, said.
One of Pagano’s professors suggested that she attend the event, but she didn’t know what to expect and, “that was kind of the best thing ever, because going to the event I had this fresh pair of eyes and it was really amazing to see such a powerful event unfold and all the healing. It was so moving—I can even really put it into words.” She describes the event as an eye opening experience that makes the problem more real.
Asadie Walters, junior psychology and human development and family studies major and VAWPP ambassador, believes it’s an important event to have on college campuses, for it gets people to recognize issues that are happening not only outside around the world but something that’s happening “on campus, to our friends and to our family.” Walters went onto say, “As young people, a lot of us aren’t really focused on the bigger issues going on outside of our daily college lives.”
Walters’ biggest takeaway from the event is that “One: Survivors of gender based violence don’t look like any one person. Two: open your eyes to the violence that could happen to anyone around you.”
Hoque equates one individual trying to alleviate the issue of gender based violence as “one drop in an ocean,” but when students come together, it becomes “a wave of people…and that’s what we are when we’re marching.”