Recently, with the litany of sexual assault allegations that have racked up an extensive list of individuals, students felt the time had come to organize the annual Take Back the Night march. The event took place on Thursday, Nov. 30 and called for reform against sexual violence and assault.
Take Back the Night is an organization that has worked to promote women’s safety and end sexual, relationship and domestic violence since the 1970s. Though the students who put on the march are not affiliated with the organization, there is an annual Take Back the Night march every spring at Western.
“With #metoo and other sexual assault awareness initiatives, it’s been really important for us to pick a good moment to do it, and I feel like this is a good moment,” junior Christiane Speckhardt, an organizer of the march, said. “There has been a lot of focus about it in the media and there have been a lot of instances of sexual assault and harassment on campus as well and close to campus. I think this is a good time to stand up and say this is something that we condemn.”
The march began as a final project by four students in a women’s studies course at Western. It grew into the 75-person march that spanned from Red Square to the police station downtown.
The marchers lit up the sidewalks of North Garden Street with flashlights and glowsticks. Chants such as, “We have the right to not be scared at night,” got the attention of residents as the march went through neighborhoods. Some came out of their homes to join in.
Many students were busy making signs beforehand in Miller Hall, including freshman Kenna Knoll. She said she is interested in women’s rights and advocating for sexual assault prevention.
“Women and everyone have the right to feel safe, especially on campus. I think it’s essential that we fight to keep working towards having a safer community,” Knoll said. “It’s important that we aren’t silenced and I think someone has to stand up.”
Junior Aisaya Corbray originally came out to the march to support her friends and help her community.
“I think it’s important to stand up for ourselves and each other, together,” Corbray said. “This has to do with my community and the safety of people that I care about. I don’t think that in any community across the world someone should have to go through feeling afraid to walk home from class at night.”
With this march through campus the students had a message to the administration.
“We want to make sure that we are holding the administration accountable and that they are continuing their process of trying to make campus safer for all their students,” Speckhardt said.