Apr 242012
 
Authors: Kate Simmons

Today at 6 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Sculpture Garden, the CSU community is taking back the night.

Take Back the Night is an event where survivors of sexual assault and members of the community are invited to attend an open-mic talk where survivors tell their stories. The speak out is followed by a march from the CSU campus to Old Town where attendees will literally take back the night.

“Take Back the Night is an amazingly powerful event. It allows people to speak about what’s happened to them,” said Casey Malsam, coordinator and victim advocate at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center. “It helps end the silence around what’s happened.”

For the 21st year, CSU’s Take Back the Night will be an empowering experience for survivors of sexual assault and allow them to feel the community’s support.

The event also focuses on spreading awareness and information.

“Raising awareness and ending sexual assault is the responsibility of the entire community and events like Take Back the Night are important, especially at CSU, because sexual assault rates are higher on college campuses,” said Emma Cotner, co-president of the Campus Feminist Alliance.

“One in four women (are sexually assaulted),” Malsam said. “It’s something we should be talking about.”

Take Back the Night is empowering for attendees who come to show their support, as well as the survivors themselves. The event is gender inclusive and open to everyone.

“Coming with the desire to learn more and support others –– it’s such a powerful thing to do,” Malsam said. “It’s an open and welcoming space. It’d be a great learning experience if they have preconceived notions about what it means to be a survivor of sexual assault.”

Students agree that sharing the stories of survivors is important.

“There are women you’re sitting next to in class and are waiting tables in the place where you’re eating lunch. Hearing their testimonies is sobering and humbling,” said Julia Edelstein, a senior human development and family studies major. “We all need to look at each other as coming from all different areas of life and respect that.”

While Take Back the Night has proven year after year to be powerful, sponsors and previous attendees hope the message of the event will persist beyond the event at CSU and in the broader Fort Collins community.

“We want (programs like these) to be more than, ‘Once a year I go and walk and chant and cheer and take back the night,’ in the actual, literal meaning of the words,” Malsam said. “I would hope that it would be a message they can take with them in their daily lives and incorporate it into how they interact everyday.”

The event hopes to empower survivors and help community members know more about how to support them.

“Sexual assaults and violence toward women, we can all agree isn’t good, yet it’s still happening,” Edelstein said. “If more people knew about it and knew there was backlash and that society isn’t condoning it, it could make a change we need to see.”

The first step, however, is getting the conversation started.

“We’re not going to change our culture around rape unless we start talking about it,” Cotner said. “This is one event in which it gets us talking about it.”

Collegian writer Kate Simmons can be reached at news@collegian.com.

CutOut: Wednesday April 25
6 to 9 p.m.
Lory Student Center, Sculpture Garden

 Posted by at 2:54 pm