On Thursday, April 26, the fourth annual “Take Back The Night” event will be held at the University of Rhode Island, hosted by the Women’s Center, the Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services (VPAS) and P.L.E.A.S.E program.
Take Back The Night is a historic event that started with the 1960s Feminist Movement. “Take Back The Night started as a way to uplift the voices of people who have been impacted by this issue [sexual assault],” Hannah Woodhouse, the P.L.E.A.S.E programs coordinator, said. “I’m really happy we get to do it on campus.”
Olivia Ferreira, a student member of the P.L.E.A.S.E program, said that, “it is a really great opportunity for URI students to gain awareness on this very present issue. It’s supposed to signify taking back the night these survivors of sexual assault were victimized.”
The event kicks off in Swan Auditorium at 6 p.m. First, P.L.E.A.S.E will talk about the history of the march, what P.L.E.A.S.E is and some of the resources available on campus. This is done to give people context of the event before it starts.
Then, the keynote speaker, Anna Lacroix, takes the stage. Anna Lacroix is an eighth grade student from Rhode Island who spoke at URI’s TedX about the necessity to start prevention education at a young age. The march is slated to begin at 7 p.m.
“The history behind the Take Back The Night march is typically survivors of sexual violence are silenced by systems,” Woodhouse said. “Whether that be social systems or institutional systems, we see victim blaming and silencing.”
Woodhouse referenced a Good Five Cent Cigar column printed last semester, “Rapists shouldn’t be able to hide behind their letters,” written by Kelsey Santmyer, as an example of silencing and victim blaming on our campus.
Typically, the march goes around the perimeter of campus. It starts on the Quad, then they march through the residence halls, through Fraternity Circle, the Memorial Union and eventually end up at the Quad again. Woodhouse encourages anyone who sees them marching to join.
Once the marchers get back to the quad, the night will end with a vigil.
“The vigil is special,” Woodhouse said. This is when everyone lights fake candles to honor the people who have experienced sexual assault either first or second hand.
There is also an opportunity to ‘speak out’ at the vigil. The ‘speak out’ gives survivors an opportunity to share their experience if they want to. This is done to follow the theme of them not wanting victims to feel silenced.
Racine Amos, the supervisor of violence prevention, along with Hannah Woodhouse are advocates and available to talk if someone feels triggered.
Woodhouse says that an event like this is so important because, “you are able to visualize your allies on campus and see students, faculty and staff who really care about people who are impacted by sexual assault.”
In the past, there have been around 30 to 50 people in attendance.
“[Sexual assault] become even more of a hot button issue and more publicized, so I hope that works in our favor and have more people who feel empowered and ready to speak out on that issue attend an event like this,” Woodhouse said.
Woodhouse stresses how important solidarity in numbers is and encourages people to attend this march.
“Whether or not they’re there, those one out of five or that one out of 16, we’re standing for them and with them,” she said.