Marching through the streets, fists pounding the air, banners flying, voices raised in chants of "Survivors unite! Take back the night!" and "Yes means yes! No means no! Whatever we wear! Wherever we go!"
A Take Back the Night rally can be powerful scene and a source of strength and resilience for survivors of sexual violence. Until it's not.
“A concern was brought to my attention that yelling and screaming at night is triggering for some survivors,” says Alex Keysselitz ’18, organizer of Take Back the Night at Puget Sound—an event that’s part of a national movement designed to give survivors of sexual violence a voice. Responding to the feedback, Alex met with concerned students last spring and over the summer, and planned a nontraditional event for the fall. This November’s Take Back the Night included a survivors-only vigil and speakout, followed by a silent, candlelight protest for both survivors and allies.
“It went well,” Alex says. “It was small, but the people that needed to be there were there.”
Like most colleges and universities across the country, Puget Sound grapples with the reality of sexual violence in our community. Between 2014 and 2016, there were 39 reported incidents on or near campus, including stalking and date-related violence, according to crime statistics compiled by Security Services using multiple reporting channels. With the support of the administration, students at Puget Sound are taking the lead to raise awareness, educate their peers, and change the campus culture.
Emily Katz ’18 is one of those leaders. She remembers going to an assembly just days before her high school graduation, where she heard the statistic that one in four women would be sexually assaulted sometime during their college career. She was stunned. And angry. “How come I’ve never heard about this before,” she remembers asking, frustrated. “How have we never talked about this, and why are we talking about it in a 20-minute assembly?