Boston College’s annual Take Back the Night event took place on Wednesday, March 25. Take Back the Night is the cornerstone event of Concerned About Rape Education or C.A.R.E. week. The event focused on standing in solidarity with survivors and taking a stand against all acts of sexual violence and intimate partner violence.
Take Back the Night “gives a face to sexual assault and opens people's eyes to how prevalent this injustice is here at BC and beyond. It engages our community in the discussion about sexual violence and lets survivors know that their stories are valued and will be heard,” said Megan Kelly, a staff member at the WRC and this year’s coordinator for Take Back the Night.
The event opened with a performance by the BC Sharps, the only all female a capella group on campus.
Rachel DiBella, the Assistant Director of the Women’s Center shared some of the history of Take Back the Night. The event started in Philadelphia in 1975 and has been held at Boston College for over a decade.
“Initially, TBTN stood as a symbolic response to conditions that caused women to feel unsafe being alone at night, but "night" also came to serve as a metaphor for the fear, isolation, coercion, and harm that all people can experience in cultures that normalizes rape,” DiBella said.
The faculty speaker, Dr. C Shawn McGuffey, an Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies, shared the story of a survivor of sexual assault he had met during his research. “Sarah”, he said was a college student like most of the audience, and like some members of the audience was also a survivor of sexual assault.
Though initially intimidated and afraid of sharing her story, Sarah became an advocate for people who had experienced sexual violence. After sharing her story, he told the audience what Sarah had once told him: “Feeling sorry for survivors is not enough. You must stand beside them.”
Three student survivors also spoke, sharing their personal stories with the audience. They shared their experiences, struggle and steps toward healing with those present.
Members of ROTC took to the podium to talk about the importance of consent, emphasizing that to truly be consent, it needs to be given freely and willingly. It is not consent, they said, if a student is incapacitated by alcohol, or has been coerced or manipulated in any way. This was followed by a community pledge where all members of the audience pledged to stand up to honor survivors and to speak out against rape.
Members of the Bystander program, which trains BC students to be active bystanders and step in to prevent sexual assault, also spoke. Advocates from the Sexual Assault Network shared with students the resources that are available to them through SANet.
The event culminated with the traditional distribution of glow sticks, which are meant to be placed throughout campus in order to reclaim spaces for all survivors.