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Take Back The Night march highlights student activism, denounces sexual violence

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Take Back The Night march highlights student activism, denounces sexual violence

Students gather around the Rock as an act of solidarity before marching

Students gather around the Rock as an act of solidarity before marching

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Students gather around the Rock as an act of solidarity before marching

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Students gather around the Rock as an act of solidarity before marching

Josiah Bonifant, Assistant Campus Editor

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Take Back The Night, a week of events centered around supporting sexual violence survivors, culminated in an impassioned march and optional speak out for survivors to comfortably share their stories Thursday.

The events throughout the week were co-hosted by a variety of groups on campus dedicated to supporting survivors and encouraging healthy expressions of sexuality with College Feminists as the primary organizer.

The group’s Take Back The Night Chair Kai Kuo said the movement began in an era of public feminist protests, inverting the norm that women are afraid to walk at night.

They said the movement today encompasses survivors of all identities with an emphasis on the intersectionality between marginalized groups.

“It’s a movement traditionally for female-bodied people — that’s how it started — but it’s become something for survivors of sexual violence as a whole,” Kuo said. “The night is ours; any space should be ours. We have the right to feel safe wherever we go.”

The march began at the Rock with a speech from SPEAK for Change director Alana Farkas with an emphasis on the students in attendance being activists. Around fifty students marched down Sheridan Road holding posters about consent and rape culture and chanting, “knowing, active, voluntary, present and ongoing” — the University’s definition of consent. Several cars honked support to the activists before they gathered around the steps of Norris University center.

SESP first year Kate Hader said she had been to one other event for Take Back The Night and was glad that the movement had an opportunity with the march to be so visible on campus, as a contrast to the sexual assault last month.

“It’s really important to support survivors, especially on a campus where a sexual assault just happened,” Hader said. “Survivors are important and valued and should be able to exist in society.”

Kuo noted that the activism on Northwestern’s campus as a whole tended to ebb and flow dependent on the notoriety of specific instances of sexual violence. They said the personal fluctuations among the student body made the work the Center for Awareness Response and Education does on educating on issues of survivorship all the more important.

Kuo also emphasized activism can look different for each individual with educating one’s closest friends and family a step accessible to everyone that has a lasting impact.

“Everybody has a part in preventing and ending sexual assault, whether it’s intervening in a situation you don’t think is safe or shutting down casual sexism,” Kuo said. “We all have a role in this fight and it doesn’t have to be something as big as a march or a protest.”

Weinberg senior Sarani Pachalla said she came last year to support several of her friends who are in student groups like Sexual Health And Assault Peer Educators and are directly involved in supporting survivors and found the event motivational enough to return.

Pachalla noticed she was one of only a few students who came out of interest, rather than to support one’s student organization. She said the march was a reminder for her on how to best support an issue she is passionate about, noting that students not in groups that discuss sexual assault or have personal connections may inadvertently be minimizing the issue by not showing up.

“For people who haven’t been a survivor or in these spaces where they’re constantly having these conversations, it’s easy to forget this is a problem that exists at Northwestern and is very prevalent and a trauma that many people have to live through daily” Pachalla said. “Being here makes it known that we’re still here and we exist.”

Email: josiahbonifant2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bonijos_iahfant


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