Students and activists will take over Anisq’ Oyo’ Park this evening for a rally supporting survivors of sexual assault, as part of Take Back the Night’s week of sexual assault education.
The event, which begins at 5 p.m, will feature student performers, musical bands and keynote speaker professor Grace Chang from the Women’s Studies Dept. Maria Reifel-Saltzberg, Take Back the Night chair and a third-year environmental studies major, said women attending the event will then participate in a candlelit march through Isla Vista and down Del Playa Drive, while men in attendance will remain at the park to learn about rape culture. The event will conclude with individual testimonies by sexual assault survivors.
Saltzberg said the Take Back the Night rally will be the culmination of the organization’s weeklong promotion of sexual assault awareness and prevention, which included posting 500 pinwheels in the grassy areas around campus to represent the number of sexual assaults in I.V. each year and activities such as a self-defense workshop and a panel discussion about rape and religion.
“[Today] is going to be one large event that the week builds up to,” Saltzberg said. “This day provides survivors more support and gives the public more awareness and education about the issue of sexual assault.”
Any sexual assault survivor who wishes to share his or her story with the crowd will be allowed to do so after the march, Saltzberg said.
Nohemi Carreno, a fourth-year anthropology and sociology major and Take Back the Night member since February 2004, said she thinks the opportunity for participants to share testimonials at the event could be empowering to sexual assault survivors.
“The survivors can join in it and they’re given this special space, a safe space to call their own, and they can begin to heal,” Carreno said.
Caitlin Chan, a second-year global studies major and Take Back the Night member, said she hopes people will realize that the event pertains to them and will attend.
“I really hope that people come because it’s frustrating to know that people think that sexual assault has nothing to do with them,” Chan said. “Statistics say that one in four college-aged women will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach the age of graduation. Do you know four women? If you do, then you’re affected.”
Take Back the Night is a student-run organization funded by a 40-cent-per-quarter lock-in fee shared with the Associated Students Women’s Commission. Saltzberg said the primary goal of the organization is to provide sexual assault survivors with a voice.
“I just want people to think about why we’re doing this and what their role is,” Chan said. “I want people to recognize that it’s a big part of our community and society and it happens to a lot of people. This is all about awareness. Let these people tell you what has happened to them and teach you through their experiences. Hopefully the survivors will be supported.”