Students march to support sexual violence survivors


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Students march through campus Thursday to raise awareness about sexual violence. Nearly 80 students participated in the Take Back the Night event.

Jee Young Lee, Reporter

Nearly 80 Northwestern students marched through campus Thursday as part of the annual Take Back the Night March to support survivors and raise awareness about sexual violence.

Energy was high despite the cold weather as participants gathered for the march in front of The Rock, taking pictures with banners, which were created by students participating in the march and a number of Greek organizations.

Weinberg sophomore Isabel Sturla, one of the leaders of Take Back the Night, stood in front of The Rock to speak to the crowd before the march began.

“I know (sexual violence) has been a really big subject this year, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that this would not even happen 10 years ago,” Sturla said. “Finally these conversations are starting. They really needed to be started a long time ago.”

The march was part of the Take Back the Night week, which was organized by members of NU’s chapter of Take Back the Night and sponsored by College Feminists.

Carrie Wachter, coordinator of sexual violence response services at the Center for Awareness, Response and Education, discussed creating a safe space on campus and ending “rape culture,” an environment where she said rape is excused or normalized and sexual violence is glamorized.

“Sexual violence does not happen only at night,” Wachter said. “It takes place when our bodies are constantly held under scrutiny, and it happens when we’re being judged for what we choose to wear, how we choose to act or who we choose to have sex with, even.”

Students marched down Sheridan Road repeatedly chanting phrases including, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, sexual assault has got to go,” “Yes means yes, no means no, whatever we wear, wherever we go” and “Shatter the silence. Stop the violence.” They turned at the Donald P. Jacobs Center and headed toward the Norris University Center, where the march ended.

A speak-out session followed inside Dittmar Gallery where some students shared personal stories about sexual violence.

“I was thrilled so many people came to support Take Back the Night,” said Erin Clark, assistant director of CARE.

She said she was excited to see people who, as a united force, participated in the march to support the survivors of sexual violence.

The Take Back the Night initiatives are only the beginning, and the conversation about sexual violence needs to continue to create real change, Sturla told The Daily. Although there are student groups at NU that contribute to the supportive energy for sexual health on campus, she said there needs to be stronger and more serious support from the administration.

“I think it’s almost the issue of our generation when it comes to college campuses,” said Communication freshman Olivia Kuncio, a spokeswoman for Take Back the Night. “The march is a lot about showing support for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence.”

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