WCU community ‘Take Back the Night’ with a powerful sound

Rain pushes WCU students inside for the 'Take back the night' march, Sept. , 2016. Photo by Imani Steward.

Rain pushes WCU students inside for the ‘Take back the night’ march, Sept. 26, 2016. Photo by Imani Steward.

The rain could not stop ‘Take Back the Night’ as students marched through the halls in support of survivors of sexual assault.

The event was hosted by the department of intercultural affairs, College Panhellenic Council, Delta Zeta, Alpha Gamma Delta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Alpha Kappa Alpha on Sept. 26.

Take back the Night’ is a national initiative to end sexual violence on college campuses by bring awareness through marches, rallies and monologue readings. This event began in the 70s with public protests about sexual violence. But in 1975 after a female microbiologist was stabbed to death while walking home alone, the event was kick started. This event has spread to 30 countries with the mission to create educational programs on “safe communities and respectful relationships”.

Media and various organizations report that 1 in 5 women experiencing sexual assault during their undergraduate years, so the organizers of the event consider it an important conversation for universities to have.

The audience was able to design their own posters before they marched through the halls of the University Center. With only about 30 students in attendance they were heard loud and clear through the halls as they chanted “2-4-6-8, no more violence, no more hate” along with various other chants discouraging sexual violence.

This event created a safe space to discuss sexual assault among supporters as well as fellow victims because the focus of the program was to inform the audience of the hardship associated with sexual violence as well as taking the initiative to step in if they notice a potentially harmful situation.

The event kicked off with interactive statistics to engage the audience as the speaker invited audience members on stage to represent the number of sexual assault cases that involve women. The speaker, Walter Turner, Director of student community ethics, urged the audience to stand up for potential victims by speaking up when they notice possible harmful situations.

“Western Carolina is pleased to host Take back the night again. It is important to us, as an institution, for our community, students, faculty, and staff to know that we take issues of sexual violence and domestic assault in a very serious matter. We care about our students, we care about our community and we hope that we take back the night,” said Turner.

The night capped off with various students reading poems, short stories and journal entries from individuals that have been exposed to or even experienced sexual violence. This was a powerful event that brought tears to the eyes of many of the participants.

“As an individual who previously worked in a courthouse and jail with victims of sexual violence and domestic violence I love to see our university addressing these important issues. I believe the program is worthy of becoming an annual event although I would like to see more of the administration promoting these events,” said Adam Hampton, National Panhellenic council president of WCU.

Sexual assault is an issue that is too often swept under the rug leaving victims to feel ignored. ‘Take back the Night’ is the first step to bringing attention to a harsh reality that will take a community effort to overcome.