Apr 272006
 
Authors: Mary Swanson

“2-4-6-8 no more date rape…whatever we wear, where we go, yes means yes, and no means no,” proclaimed a procession of about 200 women marching through Old Town on Thursday night.

At about 8 p.m., CSU students and Fort Collins residents took to the streets for the 15th annual Take Back the Night rally.

The rally, sponsored by the Campus Feminist Alliance, was part of a weeklong advocacy campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

Prior to the march, two separate Speak Outs were held on campus. Female participants met at the Lory Student Center Sculpture Garden, and male participants met in the Engineering Garden for their respective speak-outs.

The Speak Outs were structured slightly different. A group of about 40 men sat around in a circle, introduced themselves and shared personal experiences while a group of about 100 women gathered around an open microphone to share their experiences.

“Women-identified-folks experience life in different ways than men-identified-folk experiences,” said Ryan Barone in reference to differently structured events. (CQ)es

Despite the separation, both men and women were equally committed to the event’s purpose.

“Violence against women affects us all,” said John Kefalas, (CQ)es a CSU alumnus running for Colorado’s House of Representatives. Kefalas, who participated in the men’s circle, said it was, “great to be able to listen in and share with men in the group.”

Alex Hernandez, a sophomore history education major, (CQ)es agreed that the event was powerful.

“Hearing everyone’s story was really empowering and just realizing that people can survive stuff like that gives me hope,” she said.

The rally began at the Lory Student Center and ended following a march to Old Town Square. When they passed Howes Street, marchers left the sidewalk behind and poured onto Laurel Street, escorted by a CSU Police Department squad car.

The participants experienced almost unanimous support from the surrounding community. Students shouted their support from residence hall windows, cars honked in favor of the demonstrators, and people joined the procession from neighboring houses and restaurants.

The women then met up with the men for a joint rally and celebration featuring more open mic time and local award winning slam poet, Andrea Gibson.

“The night was amazing,” said Delijah Shead, a senior psychology major and emcee of the women’s Speak Out, “It is something that everyone should be involved in at least once.”

Collegian reporter Mike Donovan contributed to this report.

Mary Swanson can be reached at regional@collegian.com

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