“Take Back the Night” is an international event and non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual, relationship and domestic violence in all forms that will be held April 22, in the Warren ballrooms at Plattsburgh State.
“Take back the night is an event where survivors of sexual assault or sexual violence share their stories in a safe space,” said president of Center for Womyn’s Concerns and PSUC junior Sydney Dixon.
“They’re in a welcoming environment, where we provide the right resources to make sure they’re comfortable sharing their experiences.”
Dixon said she joined the club partly because of attending the CWC event The Vagina Monologues last year.
“I was kind of uninformed on these issues, and I went to a few of their meetings and I said ‘Wow, this is really great’,” she said. “I enjoy learning about this and found myself researching more about it.”
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Meanwhile, only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison, according to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization.
PSUC’s CWC secretary Steffany Wilcox said the event will start with tabling with different PSUC organizations, such as Stop Domestic Violence, Planned Parenthood, Organization of Women’s Ethnicity, Health Peer Educators, and Title IX. The organizations will be handing out information and informing students on their clubs during the event.
After tabling, the guest speaker, Stacyann Chin, will be performing. Chin is known for being a spoken-word poet, performing artist and an LGBTQ political activist.
After Chin’s presentation, there will be the “speakout” portion of the event, where the lights will be turned off and microphones with glowsticks will be set up. A path to the microphone will be set up so students can share their personal experiences with sexual assault with complete anonymity. CWC members will also be around with tissues for support.
“It’s a pretty powerful section because these are real people and people who are in our community that are sharing stories, and some people have never shared their story before and this is their first time that they’re able to share this without the fear of people knowing who they are or harassing them,” Wilcox said.
Additionally, if students would like to show their face, there will be a flashlight switch on the microphone.
“It’s just your voice, and it gives people a little amount of freedom and urgency to be able to share their experience because we do live in a society where we blame people for what they’re wearing, where they were, who they were with, if they were drinking or not — especially being on a college campus,” Wilcox said. “Questions and comments that blame the victim are everywhere, and I think this is a really good event to show people who haven’t been able to share their story.”
The student performers will be Dance Corps and Minor Adjustments after. If at anytime someone feels uncomfortable or needs a break, he or she is allowed to go to the “Serenity Room,” which is the Cardinal Lounge. There will be counselors available if students need to talk.
After the event wraps up in the Warren Ballrooms, there will be a march downtown Plattsburgh and then up Broad Street, for students to hold up posters and say chants.
“A lot of violence occurs to women at night, and we shouldn’t be afraid to walk around at night. Neither should anyone else,” Wilcox said.
One in three women and one in six men worldwide experience some form of sexual violence, according to Take Back the Night’s official website.
“Another big aspect of how we talk about sexual assault and violence is that we don’t really allow men to come out and say that they’ve experienced violence in the rest of society. We kind of vilify that and see that as weak,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox said she thinks the event gives any student an opportunity to come out and share his or her experiences. She also said it is important for people in their community to show support and educate themselves because the event is also for a national cause.
“A lot of people think that sexual assault is something that doesn’t occur here because we don’t talk about it a lot,” Wilcox said. “And we’re starting too. We should be aware of it and support people.”
PSUC senior and treasurer of CWC Jake Santilli went to the club fair last year and met the eboard of CWC.
“I was passionate in a sense that I shared stuff on Facebook, and I’d talk about it, but I never knew how to get involved and actually try to influence change, and the club allowed me to try to create change and create a discussion on campus,” Santilli said.
He attended the meetings and has been to several of the events including Take Back the Night last year.
“It was really moving. I describe it as an event you don’t really forget because there’s a level of intimacy between people and how much people are willing to open up and how safe they feel,”
Santilli said. “ It’s something you aren’t used to in public.”
Santilli said the march was his favorite part of the event because he had never done a march where they could chant and hold up signs.
“I think people should still attend the event just to kind of realize that these things do happen,” Dixon said. “ Although our campus community is really safe, we have to recognize that these events do happen, and I think having this open forum is a good way for them to realize it.”
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org