Associated Students Take Back the Night, an organization that advocates combatting sexual assault on campus, will hold a rally and march down Del Playa Drive tonight at Anisq’oyo’ Park to combat rape culture and sexual harassment at the university.
The rally will begin at 5 p.m. and will feature student performances, live music, art, games and zine making, as well as talks by guest speakers Lori Adelman and Jos Truitt, editors from Feministing.com. Adelman and Truitt will lead a candlelit march down DP and back as the sun sets. The event will conclude with a safe space open discussion for those who wish to share thoughts, feelings and stories regarding sexual violence related issues. Take Back the Night plans to collaborate with Campus Advocacy Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) among other campus organizations to host the event.
Second-year political science major and Take Back the Night co-chair Gema Hernandez said the event seeks to bring attention to the need for students to participate in advocating for the end of sexual assault for people of all identities.
“The rally is to silence sexual violence among those of any identity or background, not just women,” Hernandez said. “It’s really a shame that we even have to have a rally in the first place so that people know it’s wrong. But it’s work that has to be done because it’s still prevalent in culture here and everywhere.”
According to Hernandez, the rally aims to garner support throughout the I.V. community for survivors of sexual assault.
“It’s important to have a rally like this so that community members and people who are survivors know that there is a space to feel comfortable and a space for them to get in touch with others that share similar experiences,” Hernandez said.
Third-year feminist studies and English double major and Take Back the Night co-chair Kelty Kauffman said one of the organization’s goals is to ultimately change student’s mentality regarding placing blame upon survivors of sexual violence.
“So many times survivors feel that it is their fault, or they are told it is somehow their fault, with perpetrators getting away with excuses,” Kauffman said. “Often there is this feeling that survivors’ stories are fabricated, although studies have shown time and time again that they are true.”
Hernandez said while large-scale transformations regarding sexual violence will take time to carry out, events such as Take Back the Night’s rally will encourage incremental changes one step at a time.
“UC-wide there have been some recent reforms to prevent these issues of sexual assault,” Hernandez said. “People have taken the pledge here on campus for many campaigns to stop sexual violence, so it’s a step forward from something that wasn’t here before.”
First year biochemistry major and Life of the Party volunteer Josh Huang said sexual assault goes beyond rape, it includes domestic violence as well as nonphysical forms of abuse.
“I think sexual violence is not only about date rape or random harassment on the streets, it’s also about building healthy relationships,” Huang said. “Abuse and assault also don’t just have to be physical, they can be emotional too.”
According to Huang, the closing discussion to take place after the march will provide participants with a more informative and comprehensive view of all forms of sexual violence.
“I think one of the most positive things that Take Back the Night is doing is having a safe-zone discussion, which allows for a wide variety of stories and thoughts to come forward, so people can be aware of what sexual violence is like on all sides of the spectrum.”
First-year political science major Gretchen Goyette said she is in favor of participating locally in the movement to end rape culture.
“I think it’s definitely positive that Take Back the Night is hosting this event,” Goyette said. “It’s worth showing support for.”
A version of this article appeared on the page 10 of Thursday, April 16, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.