Monday night, over 300 students gathered in Gunnison Chapel to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault at this semester’s Take Back the Night, hosted by the Women’s Resource Center.
The event consisted of six brave St. Lawrence students sharing powerful stories of their assault and their healing process. An overwhelming message portrayed in each of the stories was the acceptance of different stages of the healing process; it’s ok to not be ok.
Julia Simoes ’17, a member of the Dub and the MC for the night, was moved by the enormous support the student body displayed for the event. “I think what’s most striking is the increasing participation from the student body and the amount of support people have shown over the years,” she explained, referencing past years of much smaller attendance. “I think it’s a testament to where our student body is headed regarding the issue of campus sexual assault, and that’s really inspiring and exciting.”
After hearing the difficult stories, any survivors in the audience were invited to join the speakers and members of the WRC in leading a march around the back of the chapel to the quad, ending in a candlelight vigil and a poem reading. The last stanza was powerfully read in unison:
Tonight and every day we climb.
We come together.
We say no more.
Tonight we silence the darkness,
And every night,
We take back the night.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. However, despite the obvious prevalence of sexual assault, a whopping 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police, making rape the most under-reported crime nationally.
Take Back the Night, however, is a step towards changing those statistics and ending the silence surrounding sexual assault. “It’s essential moving forward that there’s a large number and variety of people who attend these types of events in order to educate our peers about sexual violence. A wide demographic needs to be represented in this movement, and I think [Monday night’s] audience reflected that,” explains Simoes in regard to the importance of these types of events on college campuses.
Take Back the Night kicked off Teal Week here on campus, organized by the Advocates, which aims to raise awareness and activism to end sexual violence on college campuses. Look out for different events going into the weekend listed on SLUWire and posters around campus.
If you have experienced some form of sexual assault, or need sexual assault counseling, consider using one of the following resources:
SLU Advocates 24-hour Confidential Hotline: 315-244-5466
Campus Safety and Security: 315-229-5555