“Students Unite! Take back the night!” This message of empowerment echoed across campus Tuesday night as Shippensburg University (SU) students rallied to stop violence against women. Take Back the Night (TBTN), an event held in conjunction with the SU Women’s Center, sought to raise awareness of and generate action against domestic and sexual violence.
TBNT began in the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) Multipurpose Room (MPR) with a chain of speakers who introduced the audience to the mission of the event and emphasized the importance of taking action. Katie Miller, a sophomore who attended the event, said, “I loved [Kristen Houser], the keynote speaker, and found her really inspiring as one of the first attendees of a Take Back the Night rally and one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.”
Representatives from social justice organizations on campus were also invited to speak about their work and encourage the audience to get involved. However, joining a group isn’t the only way to take a stand against violence: Individuals also have power to stop violence from occurring.
Stephanie Erdice, director of the SU Women’s Center, said, “From [TBNT] I want people—and specifically the ‘No More’ campaign—to no longer be bystanders and intervene when they feel uncomfortable in a situation.”
Following the opening rally, students congregated outside of the CUB and began a march across campus. Equipped with signs and chants, students marched around Franklin Science Center and through the quad, sharing their call to action with the entire SU campus.
To end the rally, the group gathered again for a safe-space forum in which participants were encouraged to share personal stories or thoughts. Led by Erdice, with closing remarks by Rev. Jan Bye of the United Campus Ministry (UCM), candles were lit in interim to honor those who have suffered domestic or sexual violence.
“You should not be embarrassed to be a survivor, and the issue in the discussion of abuse and assault lies in how we treat victims and offenders,” said Miller. “We need to be teaching people not to assault people instead of blaming victims.”
TBTN paralleled the start of Sexual Violence Awareness Month, which takes place over the month of April. For those interested in learning more about the Women’s Center or social justice groups on campus, stop by room 123 in Horton Hall or visit online at www.ship.edu/womens_center.