Taking back the night at Augie


Linh Tran

Zachary Draves, Program Director for Sexual Assault Prevention Education, address the members.

Jack Brandt

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, students discussed forming a sexual violence prevention chapter, under the organization Take Back the Night. Take Back the Night is a foundation that aims to increase awareness about sexual assault on college campuses across the country. Following the recent success of a Take Back the Night march and rally last year in April, many students have said that they would benefit from the formation of a chapter on campus.

Cassandra Hall works at Family Resources Inc., a center in the Quad Cities for survivors. She was at the event and shared her thoughts on raising awareness. Hall said that a Take Back the Night chapter on campus would allow students to hear from each other and connect.

“The system does fail a lot of survivors, and it’s not empowering,” Hall said. “So things like this where they can be heard and where they can get their power back are really important.”

 This fall, Hall taught the Survivor Advocacy class, which provides 64 hours of training on the matter. According to Hall, it’s important to be aware of the range of experiences that people have and the way that they react.

“It’s not a black-and-white issue,” Hall said. “We can do better education-wise.”

A Take Back the Night chapter on campus would make it easier for students to hear and learn from each other. Junior Sarah Kingston attended the meeting and described the challenges she faced in finding a community of people she could open up to.

“Stories allow you to put yourself in their position and understand that this isn’t just something that you can get rid of or you can just forget about,” Kingston said. “It stays with you.”

Last year, a Take Back the Night march and rally took place, and many at the meeting on Tuesday still remembered the messages of the speakers. The event began with a march in the evening around campus, followed by a moment of silence, followed by various speakers including faculty, students and activists.

“You don’t really understand the implications, the mindset of the person who’s gone through it, you know, the turmoil that they go through, the thoughts that they have, the hatred that they have for themselves, all of these truly dark but important feelings that can really affect your life,” Kingston said.

Many individuals at the meeting shared ideas on building a presence on campus. Fun events such as healthy relationship bingo, donuts and dialogue, pizza consent and paintball were suggested as possible ways to do that. Many feel that although the school is limited by policies and laws, forming connections among students is a step to causing change.

“Information travels much faster on this campus than a larger campus,” Jennie Hemingway, Title IX coordinator at Augustana, said. “So the Take Back the Night chapter can have a much broader reach right from the beginning.”

But Hemingway added that a small campus can present challenges, too, such as not being able to escape from reminders of an experience. 

“Once I heard their story and how not only powerful it was but how they managed to channel it into something that was productive and creative and could be presented, and also had the courage to do that, I was inspired,” senior Titus Jilderda, referring to survivors, said. “It’s comforting to know you aren’t alone.”