This past week, the Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) and student activists at UConn put on another successful and empowering Take Back the Night event. Take Back the Night is an annual night of activism against sexual assault, which UConn has participated in for the last several years. Organizations across the world organize marches, speak outs and other events to support survivors and raise awareness. In addition to a solidarity march throughout campus, there were presentations held in the Student Union, including a speech by Chief Diversity Officer Joelle Murchison, Greeks Against Sexual Assault and the Men’s Project, according to a report by the Daily Campus. Additionally, survivors were able to share their stories in a safe space.
One in five women, and one in 16 men, are sexually assaulted during the course of their college career, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. RAINN more specifically puts the statistic as 23.1 percent of female, and 5.4 percent of males undergraduate students experiencing rape or sexual assault through “physical force, violence, or incapacitation.”
In recent years, there has been increased awareness about this issue and these statistics. Awareness campaigns have gained momentum and been successful in lobbying for laws about affirmative consent in different state legislatures across the country, or urging universities themselves to adopt better policies. For example, as of this year, UConn’s Division of Student Affairs now requires students to undergo the “Not Anymore” online training before their junior year.
Take Back the Night is one of the many actions of student activists on campus which contribute to the growing education and awareness. However, it also fundamentally serves as what attendee Alyssa Occhiboi called, “a place for survivors, activists and people who want to feel empowered and have a safe space.” The name “Take Back the Night” speaks to the right for all people to exist and live freely and safely in all places and at all times. This empowering message, and this year’s theme of “We Rise,” were present at the event and continue to resonate after.