Once again, the effort to “Take Back the Night,” has been a successful one, an empowering moment for an issue that too often stamps out the voices of victims.
Take Back the Night is a collaboration between Alpha Chi Omega and UNCG’s own Wellness Center, to bring light to the issue of sexual abuse and violence on campus.They tell the stories of survivors via direct confession by unbelievably brave people, and a march through the common areas of the university. This annual event happened on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m.
It has been a consistently solemn note in the shared history of the university, having been part of sexual assault awareness week for more than two decades, highlighting the close proximity of those affected by this violence. Students and residents alike, they are inextricably linked to the whole of UNCG’s community, and so this injustice is a sort that cannot be overlooked, and the health and safety of these brothers and sisters cannot be emphasized more.
This year’s event began with a few words on the sponsors and history of the event, as well as making clear the resources and services available to survivors, and where they might find the assistance that they need or simply a soul to tell their story to.
The rest of the event followed protocol; a march by the couple-hundred gathered participants, making their way through UNCG’s College Avenue. They marched past the commons, the cafeteria and finally back to their initial spot in front of the Jackson Library, all the while chanting proudly.
At this point, the sun had said its last goodbyes, and the candlelight vigil could begin after a moment of silence for all those affected by sexual violence.
The subsequent stories told were wide and varied, from a colorful group of equally varied people. It was a sight you would expect from UNCG, but for a much more harrowing reason.
Each speaker wove a greater message into their experience, whether consciously or not, that it was not the fault of the survivors. A sentiment held by the audience, and their respectfully quiet support. There are few moments that can be shared with such a large group of people that are as tender and caring as Take Back the Night.
This event is just one of many efforts by UNCG and groups within to make the problem of sexual assault on and off campus known to the greater student body. The Clothesline Project, spanned the entirety of the week, is another project that works in tandem with the event to allow more people to spread the message that survivors are not alone.
It can be difficult to speak of traumatic experiences, which is why those speakers at Take Back the Night’s late-night vigil were such a sight to behold, but not all victims are comfortable speaking openly.
That is where the importance of the t-shirts hanging outside on College Avenue lie. It is not only a constant reminder to those that walk by of the victims that exist, but possibly one of the only means a person who is afraid to tell their story has to make it known.