As the evening dimmed into the night May 10, students and faculty readied their signs as part of their plan to march through campus and raise awareness for sexual assault and violence at Take Back the Night.
The Campus Violence Response Team (CVRT) and Feminist Club collaborated on this event to raise awareness for victims of sexual violence and promote vigilance, intentionally during the nighttime, to reduce sexual assault and harassment.
Holly Hagan, a textbook buyer at the Pierce Bookstore and co-lead for the CVRT, participated in Take Back the Night.
“We’re trying to take back the night to a time where it was a little bit safer for women, especially to be able to walk at night alone, without having to look behind their shoulder,” she said.
Michelle Borsco, the cofounder of the Feminist Club, said that she has felt anxious about travelling alone at night in the past. So she made sure to walk within groups.
But when attending her evening class Monday nights, none of her other friends are available during that hour.
“It’d be nice to be able to walk to your car, something as simple as walking to your car,” she said.
Similarly, April Henry, the other cofounder of the Feminist Club, said that she would love to enjoy a simple nighttime walk around her neighborhood. Stories of sexual assault though, sometimes even having happened to her own friends, have made her wary, she said.
“Sometimes you want to take a load off, walk around your neighborhood without worrying,” she said.
Women are not the only ones in danger, Bernard Hanamichi, a member of the Feminist Club, said. In men’s cases, the fear of being mugged or provoked into a fight can occur.
“We have this fear in our society of being mugged, especially in a low-socioeconomic area,” he said.
Hagan saw this firsthand a year ago.
Her son was exiting a store with her when a man accosted him, repeatedly shouting, ‘What’s up?’
“You can’t walk out the store with your mom without someone trying to start a fight with you,” Hagan said.
Hanamichi agrees though, that men need to come to an understanding on what sort of behavior constitutes harassment. Verbal abuse could be considered harassment just as much as inappropriate touching, he said.
James McKeever, professor of sociology and advisor to the Feminist Club, believes that for men to better respect for women, they should view women as they would view their own mothers, daughters and sisters.
“Men need to sit down and put themselves in the position of women,” he said.
In his own life, McKeever knows of eight different women and two men who have been raped.
Henry believes that in addition to providing counseling to victims, steps should be taken raise awareness over rape and assault to prevent it.
“It’s something that’s lasting and heartbreaking to someone else for the rest of their life,” she said.