‘Shatter the silence, stop the violence’: Take Back the Night returns for first in-person march in two years


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Students march and hold signs at Thursday’s event. Take Back the Night remained in-person this week, after virtual programming last year and cancelation in 2020.

Caroline Brew, Assistant Campus Editor

Content warning: This story contains mentions of sexual assault.

Twenty people gathered at The Rock on Thursday and marched to the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters, shouting chants like “blame the system, not the victim” and “shatter the silence, stop the violence.”

The march was part of Take Back the Night, a week of programming from April 25 through 29 dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual violence.

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no,” the group chanted as they walked down Sheridan Road. 

While Take Back the Night is commemorated internationally, Co-Leads Weinberg sophomore Savannah Graziano and McCormick senior Divya Sharma said they wanted to ensure the event was visible on Northwestern’s campus.

Graziano is also the director of SPEAK for Change, a survivor-focused student group. She said the events the group hosts do not always get much visibility, but hosting survivor-centered events remains one of her biggest goals.

“I want to just keep trying to put out events that people can see and go to and feel not so alone,” Graziano said. 

The week began with a moderated webinar featuring Chanel Miller on Monday hosted by the Center for Awareness, Response and Education. CARE Director Carrie Cox Wachter also presented Tuesday for the Take Back the Night kickoff, where she discussed trauma and supporting survivors through allyship.

Take Back the Night hosted a trivia event Wednesday, and Thursday’s programming also included a speakout in Dittmar Gallery.

“That’s where survivors can share their stories, and people can come to share or just to show solidarity, support and listen,” Sharma said.

During the speakout, Take Back the Night also held two rooms in the Norris University Center open for additional support: a grounding space with snacks and coloring sheets and a confidential space with CARE staff for anyone who wanted to talk during the event. On Friday, the Women’s Center organized a Community Care Day with crafts for participants to recharge after the week.

Take Back the Night was canceled in 2020 and had low attendance in 2021 due to its virtual format, Sharma said. Because of the pandemic, most members of College Feminists and SPEAK for Change — the main clubs involved — have not experienced an in-person version of the event.

“I feel like we’ve kind of started from scratch this year, honestly,” Graziano said. “A lot of the goal this year is to try to remind people on campus what this is because it’s kind of a new thing people have never heard of before.”  

The last time the Take Back the Night march was held in person was when Sharma was a freshman. 

She said she wanted to help bring the event back to its level of prominence in her freshman year.

“I really wanted to help it be more visible and get more attention from people,” Sharma said. “That’s really important because on campus right now, it’s not really a welcoming space for survivors institutionally, systemically … so where we can help is through community and through events that show our own solidarity.”

Reflecting on the week, Sharma said because the work is “taxing emotionally and physically,” it can be disappointing when turnout is lower than expected. Still, she said the group aims to support whoever it can reach.

“I hope that we were able to reach at least one survivor and make them feel more welcome and more seen,” Sharma said. “As long as we did that, I think the week was a success.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @carolinelbrew 

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