Only minutes after they began distributing shirts to the crowd, coordinators of Take Back the Night had none left; 435 shirts were gone in roughly 10 minutes.
Former president of the Women’s Center Cara Levine said the turnout for the annual event has been steadily improving. Even through the rainy weather the turnout was far better than the previous year.
“We hit 350 [people] last year, I know that we hit over 500 this year,” Levine said.
If the Clery Act is any indication, Take Back the Night may be having an impact on the campus community by encouraging students to speak up against their attacker to police. In 2009, one forcible sex offense was reported to University Police. In 2010 that number rose to five reports.
On a national level, it is estimated that 60 percent of rapes or sexual assaults go unreported, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Factoring in unreported rapes, only six percent of rapists will ever spend a day in jail; 15 of 16 rapists never see the inside of a jail cell.
“We need to start by ending a culture that allows rape,” Levine said.
Daisy Mendoza, a public relations officer for the Women’s Center, said the main goal of the event is to spread awareness. Otherwise it can be difficult to understand that these are not isolated incidents. Through shared stories it is clear that there are far more crimes than those reported.
For two hours people continuously stepped on stage to share their stories of rape and sexual assault. For those who did not speak up, messages of courage, strength and unity were relayed.
“If you don’t have a voice, Women’s Center will speak up for you,” Mendoza said.
Senior Kristofer Brandow decided to share his story and said he felt it was a weight off his shoulders.
“It’s a good place to come and let out feelings…people will support you,” Brandow said.
Langlois instructed the audience on what they can do to help the victims of crimes that have already occurred. The best help for the victim is support, specifically in the form of listening.
There is more to be done in preventing crimes of sexual assault and rape. Society’s conceptions of women and language used impact how we view these crimes. Describing women as sluts or teases only makes it more acceptable for men to treat them that way. Another method of prevention is to accept nothing more than enthusiastic consent; if it is not an absolute ‘yes’ then it should be considered a ‘no’.
“They say boys will be boys, but men can be revolutionary,” Levine said.
This article originally misidentified Cara Levine as Lisa Langlois.