Students march to raise awareness about sexual assault


Alec Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Students march from The Rock to Norris University Center in April for Take Back the Night. The event was held to raise awareness around sexual assault and provide support for survivors on campus.

Catherine Kim, Web Editor

More than 50 students marched from The Rock to Norris University Center on Thursday as they shouted “Hey hey! Ho ho! Sexual assault has got to go” for Take Back the Night’s annual march.

Take Back the Night is a week-long series of events held to raise awareness about sexual assault. The event, hosted by College Feminists, started off at The Rock, where Weinberg senior Asha Sawhney spoke directly to survivors.

“I do hope that here at Northwestern we can forge communities in which survivors feel supported and the community at large challenges itself to be honest and restore itself from harm,” she said. “And hopefully everyone can have a moment … where they finally feel like they don’t have to be quiet.”

Sawhney said it is important to acknowledge that anyone can be a perpetrator. Sexual assault is not a “natural disaster” and educators should be able to identify the people behind the harm, she said.

SESP sophomore Kai Kuo, one of the event’s organizers, said they decided to take part in the march after learning about alleged sexual assault reports at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

“Because things have died down after SAE, people aren’t as aware and don’t think of it as much of a problem now, but this is still really real for a lot of people on this campus,” Kuo said.

Kuo said they want the event to show survivors that they are not alone, because preventing sexual assault is an issue that many people are passionate about on campus.

Students on campus can help other survivors by providing a safe space and offering support, Kuo said. Kuo added that it is important to take the pressure off their shoulders to take action and just support them.

Kuo said party culture on campus needs to be addressed to make NU a safer place. There also needs to be more risk management at fraternity social events, Kuo said.

Dean of students Todd Adams said he participated in the event as a member of the community. Although sexual assault is an important issue that needs to be addressed, he said it is not talked about enough.

In an effort to make the school safer, Adams said the University will make education around sexual assault and relationship violence –– which was previously provided to only incoming freshmen –– an annual training for all undergraduate, graduate and professional school students. The University will also continue to support the Center for Awareness, Response and Education and other events like Take Back the Night, he said.

“We have a real opportunity in this point and time to leverage the social movement of #MeToo and the heightened conversations and bring them to our campus, where they’ve been, but bolster them even more,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Asha Sawhney and misstated the pronouns Kai Kuo uses. Asha Sawhney said sexual assault is not a “natural disaster,” and Kuo uses “they/them/their” pronouns. The Daily regrets the errors.

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