SCSU comes together to “Take Back the Night”
Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter
“Sexual Assault” is defined as including “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape,” according to the U.S Department of Justice.
Sexual assault is one of the most common and often ignored violent crimes seen on college campuses around the world. Recently, acts of sexual assault are gaining more and more media coverage, allowing victims to feel safe enough to share their stories and get the help they need.
On March 22, The SCSU Women’s Center conducted their annual event, “Take Back the Night,” to raise awareness and get students talking about sexual violence and to show support for survivors.
“Take Back the Night” is a national event seen on many college campuses. According to the organization’s website, “Since the 1970s in the United States, TBTN has focused on eliminating sexual and domestic violence in all forms. Thousands of colleges, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers have held events all over the country.”
This year was the 18th annual “Take Back the Night” on Southern Connecticut State University’s campus. The event originated on SCSU’s campus in 1997.
Melissa Richards, graduate intern at the Women’s Center and coordinator of the event said the mission behind “Take Back the Night” is a simple one.
“Take Back the Night is a rally to raise awareness around the topic of sexual violence,” said Richards. “This year, the theme of the event is ‘Unity, Solidarity, Action, Empowerment.’’’
According to Richards, Unity and Solidarity refer to letting survivors know that they are not alone and Action and Empowerment refer to getting individuals the help they need and empowering them to carry on.
The event began with Dr. Tracy Tyree, vice president of Student Affairs, introducing a film screening the university is sponsoring called “The Hunting Ground.” The documentary style film is about sexual violence on college campus.
The Women’s Center director also explained to the audience how to file a sexual assault report and went over all of the resources available on Southern’s campus.
The next portion of the night was the “Speak Out.” During this one hour period, anyone who attended was able to come up to the microphone and share their experiences with the audience.
In between audience participation, individuals from the Women’s Center as well as other offices on campus shared stories about violence to particular communities including the LGBT community, the military, and people of color.
This portion of the event allowed survivors to share their words of hope to the individuals who were not ready to go up to the microphone themselves.
Melissa Judson, senior, attended the event with one of her organizations. Judson said, “I think this event is beyond important. I feel as though it shows that there are places for struggling college students to go and it shows that they are not alone in whatever situation they are in.”
One of the main goals of the event is to point college students in the direction of the resources they might need if they find themselves in a situation involving sexual assault.