Take Back the Night raises campus awareness

Lisa Herdman WASHBURN UNIVERSITY

Take Back the Night, an event that gathered participants to march for domestic and sexual violence, was hosted by STAND on Oct. 29 outside of the Memorial Union.

Washburn was chosen as one of the ten schools in the United States to host  “Ten Points of Light,” one of the locations that would hold a march followed by a candlelight vigil to promote awareness about both domestic and sexual violence.

“It’s great to see people from all walks of life join together on campus to end the stigma that is sexual violence and sexual assault,” said Natalie Engler, sophomore criminal justice major. “We’re trying to erase the stigma of mental illness. It doesn’t need to be kept in the shadows anymore.”

Engler also mentioned the presence of the group To Write Love on Her Arms on campus, and encouraged students join and to find others around them to talk to about physical and sexual violence, as well as mental illness.

The march started after a performance from the Topeka High drum line. At the front of the march was university president Jerry Farley, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment Director Marilyn Ault. The drumline tailed along the back end of the march playing their instruments.

STAND, one group who assisted in hosting the event, helped to create and distribute signs for participants to carry in the march around campus.

“Take Back the Night is a march and a vigil that helps show support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It is important especially on college campuses because of the rate of sexual assault found on them,” said Monica McDougal, senior mass media major and STAND member. “It is so important to get this message out – we shouldn’t be afraid to walk at night.”

McDougal said the rate of sexual assault for college-aged women is one in four, and that any support we can give to these survivors is important.

“This is a serious problem across the entire country. We need to have a change in dynamic, and a change in culture,” said Farley to those in attendance. “It starts with things like this. These programs bring a focus to what the problem is.”

Farley mentioned that the university is committed to doing what it can to make circumstances better. The programs that the attorney general is involved in are having a positive impact, and we want to encourage them to continue.

After the march, the candlelight vigil included music, apple cider and cookies, and three survivors shared their stories. The participants lit candles and stood in a circle, before putting them into a tub full of sand to show support.

Take Back the Night had nine other schools in participation with the event aside from Washburn. Other participants in the Ten Points of Light included Carroll College, Central New Mexico Community College, Claremont College, Fordham University, McHenry County College, Moraine Park Tech, Temple University, Rutgers University, University of North Texas and the University of Washington.

“It’s a way for people to share their stories, and know how sacred their story is,” said Molly Walter, senior psychology major and TWLOHA founder. “We can show people that there are resources out there, and that they can get help. They encounter a situation like this and speak up since they know they are supported.”