Take Back the Night empowers campus and supports survivors

Martha Tomesen

On Sunday, April 28, the Take Back the Night rally was held in the Olin auditorium. The event was organized by the students from the introductory women studies course, Women and Change, taught by Dr. Jane Simonsen. The rally was originally supposed to be held in the Lower Quad, but was moved inside due to bad weather.
“Basically, this is an event that we want to use to empower victims of sexual violence, and we also want to spread the word that we stand with victims of sexual violence. We want to be a support system for them,’’ Sophomore Nadia Castillo said.
Take Back the Night is a national organization founded in 1976. The purpose of the Take Back the Night event on campus was to raise awareness about gender-based violence and give students the opportunity to voice their opinion on the issue and engage in activism.
Multiple speakers, including Dat Poetry Lounge, Vagina Warriors and students telling their own personal stories with gender-based violence were part of the event. There was also pizza available for students.
“I think it is really good for students to hear that this is not something that only one or two people experience. Students need to know that there are a lot of people on campus that care about this issue. There can maybe be made connections with people. The more people show up, the more students know they are not alone,’’ Simonsen said.
Recently, a video was posted on twitter showing unidentifiable students talking about alleged sexual assault. Simonsen spoke out on how the conversation influenced the event,
“I know that the students are taking a lot of care to make sure that the event is safe,” Simon said, “People will only say things that don’t make people further concerned. But part of the reason that we have this event is that we know these conversations go on on campus. It was really painful and shocking to see that recorded, but I think it shows the reason we do this event in the first place.’’
Campus organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) were also present at Take Back the Night to offer support for the students.
Previous to the event, there was a showing of the movie The Hunting Ground, about sexual violence on college campuses, to create awareness of the event.
Senior Lydia Lara is part of Dat Poetry Lounge. She spoke out on how important it is for Augustana’s students to come to events like Take Back the Night.
“It is important, first of all, to show support and say that student are an ally and an advocate for all people who experienced sexual assault,” Lara said, “When we say all people, we say all men and all women and all non-binary people. This is to show support, but also to give a place for people to come together to heal, to find a place to learn and to find a place just to be together.’’