Women and LGBT Center hosts Take Back the Night
By Michael Gonzalez
Take Back the Night, an annual event to raise awareness of sexual assaults on campus, was held in the Hughes-Trigg Theater Tuesday at 8 p.m. Members of the Women and LGBT Center, Women’s Interest Network, Dallas Area Rape Center and others joined together to host the event and raise awareness amongst the students here at SMU.
The event began with a visual representation. All the women in the room were asked to stand up to represent the 1 in 4 women who have been sexually assaulted, then the men stood, representing the 1 in 33 men who have been sexually assaulted. A silence fell in the room as the audience reflected on what stood before them.
After a brief introduction, Alex Day president of the Women’s Interest Network here at SMU came to the stage. Day spoke about the efforts of the organization and their goal of ending gender-based inequality here on campus and around the nation. Day concluded her time on stage by sharing facts about sexual assault victims.
“Most sexual assaults happen by someone that you know,” Day said.
A representative from the Dallas Area Rape Center spoke next. She explained what the rape center offered to its victims and the many volunteer opportunities that were available. The Dallas Area Rape Center who also works in tandem with Parkland Hospital, offers victims a place of safety and comfort to help them through the traumatic event of being sexually assaulted.
Several other members from organizations came onto the stage to explain to students the services that they offer as well as the efforts that are being made to battle against sexual assault. Joanne Vogal, SMU Associate VP and Dean of Student Life, was also in attendance. Dean Vogal spoke about the Carrying Community Connections, a program offered as a way to look out for fellow students. Soon after the informational session, the true heart of the event revealed itself.
“1, 2, 3, 4, we won’t take it anymore 5, 6, 7, 8, no more violence no more hate… Join together free our lives, we will not be victimized,” chanted the audience.
The audience practiced saying these chants in unison. The event would now be taken outside for a march down SMU Boulevard to bring attention to the cause. Everyone grabbed their jackets and a cup of coffee as they braved the cold and marched across campus.
“We are women we are men together we fight, take back the night… Join together free our lives we will not be victimized,” chanted the crowd as they marched across campus.
The boulevard was filled with the voices of the thirty or so people who joined the march. As the group passed by the fraternity houses onlookers came to the windows. The intramural teams stopped their games for a brief moment as they watched them march by. Before ending the march back at Hughes-Trigg, the group stopped at the Ann Lacy Crain Fountain for a candle lighting ceremony.
Each candle that was lit would represent a victim of sexual assault. Participants were asked to blow out the candles if they had ever been a victim of sexual assault. The rest of the group was asked to blow out their candles if they pledged to fight to end sexual assaults. Every candle was extinguished.
“I thought that we should have been louder with our chants, some people came outside to watch and I just thought that we should have been louder so that way more people could hear,” Senior Cece Johnson said.
The night ended with an open mic portion. Members of the audience were given the opportunity to share, confess, and discuss anything that had happened to them or someone that they knew involving sexual assaults.
No one came to the microphone at first. After a few nervous minutes a girl stood up and came to the microphone and shared her story. After her another story followed, then another and another. Both men and women stood up to share their stories and experiences involving sexual assaults.