About 40 students chanted and shouted their way down Indian Street on Tuesday, May 12, guided by a police escort as a part of Take Back The Night, an annual rally and march that aims to end street violence and harassment of people of marginalized gender identities. The event was put on by the Associated Women’s Center.
Vanessa McGowan, a spoken word poet who has been involved in Take Back The Night events for several years, performed for those in attendance. In one of her poems she said that she hoped to get rid of the idea that people should feel shame for what has happened to them.
“Tonight, I am lifting the shame. The shame and guilt carried every day by those who have the support, courage and determination to make it out but are too scared, scarred, humiliated or ashamed to use their own voice,” she said.
Jazmine Smith, the AS Women’s Center assistant coordinator, said she hoped the event would allow people to share their stories and share their views on violence issues.
“We can’t change these things unless we talk about them,” she said. “[We need to] talk about why they’re not okay, why we should we be able to walk around the streets and feel safe, and why my friend shouldn’t be posting about a terrifying experience that she had.”
Smith also said that there was strength in community when it came to dealing with issues like the ones addressed at the event.
“There is strength in community and strength in sharing your story with whatever platform that may be, whether its activism or through conversations,” she said .
After the spoken word performance and a brief gathering in the Performing Arts Center Plaza, students marched downtown carrying signs condemning sexual violence and promoting conversation about the issue.
When students returned from the march, a gathering and a reception was held where they could share their stories with each other.
Junior Emma Pinti said that she attended the event because she wanted to get out and do something instead of just listening to people talk about problems.
“We go to a lot of lectures and we kind of know it all already, so we wanted to do something,” she said.
Pinti also said that it was a good thing that the march turned some heads that evening.
“I think all the people looking in and through their windows and standing outside watching us probably got a little perspective on things maybe,” she said.
The AS Women’s Center is located in VU 154 and provides a safe space to share experiences.