Take Back the Night illuminates Earth Day

Take+Back+the+Night+illuminates+Earth+Day

Photographs courtesy of Tamarra Newbern

Tamarra Newbern, News Reporter

As a way to raise awareness for sexual assault, the UIS Women’s Center and the Department of Residence Life held the ninth annual Take Back the Night event on April 22.

Students, staff, faculty, and community members gathered at the colonnade at 8:30 p.m. to begin the event. T-shirts and electronic candles were given to participants before getting started.

The Take Back the Night event is a campus event that the Women’s Center directs each year to raise awareness for sexual assault, specifically on college campuses. The event serves as a way to reclaim the night to feel safe as a right of any human being.

To kick off the event, four students at UIS spoke about sexual violence by reading poems and informing participants who was supporting the awareness project.

Rebecca Stein, a UIS sophomore legal studies major, recited a poem, “The Kindness of Strangers” by Leslie Root, during the rally and expressed how she feels about the Take Back the Night Event.

“There’s a lot of stigma against people who are sexually assaulted. This event gives these people a voice,” Stein said.

Lynn Otterson, director of the UIS Women’s Center participated in her first Take Back the Night in Carbondale in 1983. Once Otterson became the director of the Women’s Center, she decided to continue the event at UIS after local Springfield organizers stopped sponsoring it.

Nine years later, the ninth Take Back the Night event occurred at the UIS campus.

With April 22 also being Earth Day, Otterson believes there is special relevance between the two events.

Otterson stated, “This Take Back the Night is very special to the UIS Women’s Center. This Take Back the Night is on Earth Day, and part of our message tonight will be about how attitudes and behavior toward women and girls is a mirror image of how we treat what virtually every culture designates as the Great Mother, Mother Nature, Mother India, Pachamama.”

UIS sophomore and accounting major Simon Andrews was the second of two UIS students to recite a poem. Andrews gave information about groups of individuals that raised awareness about sexual assault and the history on how the Take Back the Night event gained national attention.

“I believe that it is an expression of frustration. Students are chronically under- and misinformed about the scope and scale of sexual assault on campuses,” Andrews said. “As a result, they are vulnerable to flashy summary statistics and seldom are aware of programs to improve the safety of women across the nation and on their own campus.”

“Since they do [not] have a productive outlet, they are left with marching and chanting as a way to vent unused potential.”

After the rally at the colonnade, participants marched and chanted from the colonnade to the Student Life Building (SLB) on the east side of campus.

Participants were directed into the SLB gym to view displays of projects from sexually abused individuals and people who’ve witness sexual assaults before. T-shirts with stories of victims and 10 paper cranes were also displayed.

Three years ago, the 10 Paper Cranes for Healing project began on the UIS campus as a way to honor victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

Additionally, during the rally, organizers presented videos on sexual awareness.

The Take Back the Night event is held every year in April.