COURTESY OF ALYSSA SILEO
On April 11, Women’s Concerns, Drew’s Feminist House (WoCo), lead Take Back the Night, an annual march and vigil to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and commit to ending violence.
According to the foundation’s website, Take Back the Night marches first occurred on college campuses in the 1970s as the interest in women’s issues and advocacy grew. According to the Drew march’s program, the meaning of the march is to “assert a woman’s right to move safely at any time without requiring an escort.” Another component of Take Back the Night is the Men’s Vigil, which is for men who wish to hold a conversation about how to end rape and sexual assault as well as the way men experience these things. Our campus’ Take Back the Night had a brief Men’s Vigil, after which participants joined the marchers.
The March began at Brother’s College, where participants were given handheld candles. The a capella group On a Different Note performed beautiful renditions of “Angel” and “Hallelujah.” The participants then began their march to 20 different locations on campus where sexual assaults have occurred. As the group marched around campus, they recited chants like “Women united/Will never be divided” and “Claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand, take back the night,” and at each location, a marcher read a poem about the experience of sexual assault survivors or womanhood. Some of these poems included “Poem to Take Back the Night” by June Jordan and “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou. The reader then left a rose at the location before continuing on the march.
After the march, WoCo invited marchers back to the theme house to eat cookies, drink tea and take a moment to unwind, as the march dealt with heavy topics.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in which campuses and organizations around the country hold programs like this one to educate about the prevention of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Another event held earlier this month to recognize victims of rape and sexual assault was the Monument Quilt. Take Back the Night will occur again on Drew’s campus next April.