Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Event stresses student safety

Students and faculty will be walking across campus Sunday night to raise awareness of sexual violence and other acts of violence as part of the national event, Take Back the Night.
The event, organized by a women’s and gender studies class taught by Jane Simonsen, associate professor of history, is designed to represent victims of
“A lot of (the event) is to raise awareness but the big point behind it is supposed to be “Take Back the Night” because one of the big issues with sexual assault and also just violence against women in general is women are scared at night,” said sophomore Kelsey West, co-president of Understanding Sexual Assault (USA). USA, a student led group that provides awareness for sexual assault awareness and support for victims, came up with the idea of holding Take Back the Night at Augustana.
Other co-president of USA, Kierstyn Westfall, said, “Take Back the Night is really just banding together all of us, whether you’re a survivor or know somebody who’s been a victim of sexual assault.”
Simonsen’s class and USA have  partnered with SafePath Survivor Resources to organize the event. SafePath, a program under Family Resources of the Quad Cities, provides education, counseling and advocacy to victims of violence, according to its website. It hold an annual Take Back the Night event; this year it will hold the event Thursday at Davenport Central High School.
Take Back the Night’s  national history
Take Back the Night first started in the 60’s in Europe, when a group of women met to discuss women’s safety while walking down public streets, according to Take Back the Night’s website.
“Women and men were first starting to raise awareness of sexual assault as a crime of power, meaning that not just out there in the world, but at home, too, you’re not safe if you are sort of subject to the power of someone else,” said Simonsen.
According to the website, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced a form of sexual violence across the world, and 50 percent of victims do not report crimes of sexual violence.
In 1973, Take Back the Night members protested pornography in San Francisco, and since then, protests began happening across the U.S. and other countries such as Canada to stand up against sexual assault.
Simonsen said the event has redefined sexual assault “as not just sex that happens between people, but that it’s about power.”
She said Take Back the Night has now transformed to represent all forms of violence, not just sexual violence.
“You shouldn’t be fearful in your place of work, or where you go to school or out on the street or even in your own home,” said Simonsen. “And I think it’s an important conversation to keep having especially in light of some acts of racial violence that have been going on this year—this idea that some people are simply less safe in public than others I think is something we need to keep talking about on a broader scale on this campus.”
Take Back the Night at Augustana
The idea for hosting a Take Back the Night event at Augustana this year was created by USA, who heard about the event nationally and saw that St. Ambrose hosts Take Back the night as well. USA approached Simonsen about collaborating with one of her classes to help plan the event.
USA and Simonsen’s class held a trivia night last week, raising money for Take Back the Night.
Sophomore McKee Jackson, who is a student in Simonsen’s class and treasurer of USA, said Trivia Night was a fundraiser, but was also meant to let “people know that things are happening on campus when it comes to sexual assault and sexual assault awareness, and it’s a big deal.”
Jackson hopes to have megaphones during the Take Back the Night walk to “be loud and be proud with it in a respectful way.”
SafePath will provide information and resources at the event, for example where to go for help and what a healthy relationship looks like.
Simonsen said all people should come, despite gender, because Take Back the Night involves everyone, such as the LGBTQ community and people of all races and ethnicities.
West and Jackson stressed the importance of the issues Take Back the Night raises and how the event can bring the campus together.
“We’re kind of speaking up for the people who aren’t able to speak up,” said Westfall.
Simonsen said Augustana has held Take Back the Night on campus in the past, and Westfall intends to continue the event each year for the future.

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Event stresses student safety