Ohio University

Take Back the Night event to be held April 4

Take Back the Night event to be held April 4
Published: March 18, 2019 Author: Alaina Bartel

Take Back the Night, an annual event to take back the night from sexual and domestic violence, is scheduled to take place on Ohio University’s Athens campus on Thursday, April 4. People of all gender identities are encouraged to participate in listening to survivor speakers and marching to symbolically take back the night. 

“This event encourages community support for all survivors of sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and domestic violence,” said Dr. M. Geneva Murray, director of OHIO’s Women’s Center. “With that in mind, we encourage all students, community members, faculty and staff to attend the event and walk with survivors in solidarity. This march is exempt from mandatory reporting to allow for full campus participation.”

Exhibits and resources

The event will kick off at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in Baker University Center Ballroom, where participants can visit exhibits and connect with available resources for survivors of sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. This year, resource tables at the event include My Sister’s Place, Survivor Advocacy Program, Counseling and Psychological Services, Ohio University Police Department, Equity and Civil Rights Compliance and Better Bystanders. 

“This year, you'll see that we've incorporated survivor centered programming throughout the year (beginning with ‘What Were You Wearing’) and that Take Back the Night is a culmination of our programs centered on survivors,” Dr. Murray noted. “We always hope to have a diverse representation of survivor experiences, both in the identity of survivors and also in their survivor experiences.”

The following art collections will be on display during this time: 

• Canvas paintings created by survivors

• Pictures of Ohio University submissions to the Monument Quilt

• A “Transforming Trauma” art sculpture created by Counseling and Psychological Services staff

• Select submissions to the International Women’s Art Installation

• A “What Were You Wearing?” online exhibit station

Speakers and performers 

Beginning at 7 p.m, several speakers will take to the microphone to share their thoughts with the OHIO community. The scheduled speakers include Ariana Brown, Brooks Funke, Celestia Hathhorn, Leigh Plucinsky and Dr. Kelly Sunberg. Domonique Cudjo and Esther Aulis-Cabrere will be performing a joint spoken word piece. There may be other performances as well and speakers are still being recruited for the event.

“This year, we are fortunate to have speakers representing both a childhood survivor of domestic violence and an adult survivor of domestic violence,” Dr. Murray added. “We also hope to grow the number of participants in our "I will walk with you" T-shirts. No one should have to walk or march alone, and those wearing the "I will walk with you" T-shirts are volunteers that will walk with anyone at the march who would like them to join them.”

The march

Following the speakers and presenters, the crowd will walk into town from Baker Ballroom and will end their walk by returning to the Baker Center. The walk follows sidewalks that are accessible for mobility aides, but there will also be a street legal golf cart. To reserve a spot in the golf cart, please email womenscenter@ohio.edu

Murray said last year, the response for the event was overwhelming. More than 700 attendees heard survivor speakers and approximately 200 marched. 

“Anecdotally, we heard from male survivors that they were empowered by hearing a male survivor at the march,” Dr. Murray added. 

About Take Back the Night: According to Dr. Murray, Take Back the Night has had a presence in Athens and the University since 1979. It was frequently organized as a weeklong series of events, and during those series there were often questions or discussions regarding whether or not men could participate in the event. 

As the Women's Center and Student Senate began to partner more in 2017 for the 2018 march, the event was rethought to not be siloed within a week but rather to consider how sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and domestic violence programming should happen throughout the year as an ongoing commitment across campus and within the community. 

It was within this vein that campus partners (including Campus Involvement Center, Survivor Advocacy Program, and College of Fine Arts) brought the What Were You Wearing exhibit and Beverly Gooden (including Women's Panhellenic Association) in 2018. The organizing committee reified its commitment to survivors of all identities, regardless of gender identity, for the 2018 march, and encouraged participation from everyone.