As I walked through the Oval Thursday evening, the sun shining brightly through the massive trees beginning to blossom in spring, I found a small group of men sitting in a loose cluster. I approached them and sat in a circle of about 20, a group brought together to support a cause they believed in with all their hearts. They, like me, were there to "Take Back the Night," a rally to raise support and awareness of sexual assault and abuse.
At the men's "speak out" portion of the rally, I began to truly think about all the little things I am privileged to experience, based solely on my gender. I have never had the horrifying experience of fearing for my safety as I walked from the library – feeling a long shadow of echoing footsteps behind me. I have never had to wonder if my drink at a party was safe to consume, when I did not pour it myself.
Realizing these privileges made me come to another conclusion, one echoed by many at the rally: Sexual abuse and assault is not really a women's issue – it's a man's issue. We, as a gender, cannot accept violence toward women and children. Plain and simple, these acts must become unacceptable in our society. In almost 99 percent of sexual assaults and abuse men are the perpetrators. Thus, it is men who need to make the changes; it is men who need to lead a movement of change to aid a constantly growing population of victims.
Yet sadly, there were only 20 men at the rally, on a campus of more than 25,000 people.
As I sat in the circle of men discussing statistics that made me cringe – one in three women are physically or sexually abused at some point in her life – I marveled at the fact that of the more than 10,000 male undergraduates, only 20 made it out to support a cause that effects more than half of our population. In case any math majors are curious, that amounts to about 0.2 percent of males on campus.
The goal of "Take Back the Night" is to not only raise awareness about the horrid events that take place in so many victims' lives, but to also try to change behavior and society as a whole. Taking back the night equates to making the world a safe place for everyone – men, women and children alike. I believe one person can make a difference– I know that my attendance at this event will help me aid others in need– but I truly hope next year we can do better; as a campus, as a school and as a gender. The 0.2 percent support from Thursday is just not enough to affect the change our society and school deserves. Next year, I hope to "Take Back the Night" with more than 0.2 percent of the Ram's I proudly call my classmates.
Jake Blumberg is a sophomore technical journalism major. He is a reporter for the Collegian.