Students, faculty and staff alike came together on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. to “Take Back the Night” in solidarity with survivors to overcome sexual violence in our society.
Organized by the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, this march aimed to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual assault through rallying chants such as, “two, four, six, eight, no more date rape” and the powerful reciting of survivors’ accounts of sexual assault by those participating.
The march went around campus, starting off at the information desk in the John A. Barone Campus Center, and made stops at locations such as outside the levee, near rafferty field and in the center of the quad. At each of these stops, stories were told by various survivors, recounting their experiences with sexual assault and, between the stops, marchers held up signs to demonstrate awareness of this pervasive societal epidemic.
According to the mission statement for “Take Back the Night,” it is “an international event and non-profit organization with the message of seeking to end sexual violence of all forms. One of the main goals of this organization is to create a safe space and respective relationships for those who have been affected.”
Jasmine Raghunandan, the event coordinator for the Office of Student Diversity, expressed the significance of this march and why it is necessary in that, “First, being aware that there’s a community involved in sexual assault awareness on their [students’] college campus and two, a safe space for anyone who wants to engage in those dialogues for survivors of sexual assault and anyone who is standing in solidarity with those survivors.”
One student in attendance, Yamil Cobo ‘19, said, “I think the event itself is very important and critical, especially in the time we live in now, where even our president is openly against women. We definitely want to shed light into it and have insight as well. We want to make sure we support our women because they do a lot for us. It’s so important that we respect each other.”
Raghunandan further added, in respect to the need for sexual assault awareness to garner more attention at Fairfield, “I definitely think that it’s something the entire University can get involved with across multiple platforms, so if we were to compare Sexual Assault Awareness Month with the kind of attention Relay for Life has, everyone knows Relay for Life, everyone knows it’s going to happen. Mind you, Relay for Life has a longstanding tradition here; with ‘Take Back the Night,’ this is only its third year.”
Another student showing his support for the cause, Eddie Nicholas ‘21, felt that, “Nobody really talks about it [sexual assault], so I thought that the least I could do was to come out and visibly support it.”
As for why this is an important event for Fairfield to have each year, Raghunandan stated that, “Three years ago, someone in FUSA [Fairfield University Student Association] said we really need to get involved with this because it’s really important; there’s not enough awareness for sexual assault awareness month and that’s how it started. As to the importance of it, it goes back to understanding the importance of giving a voice to those who are voiceless and standing in solidarity with a community that can, and probably is very affected by sexual assault.”
Lastly, she noted that, “It [sexual assault] is one of those things where, I think that the more students are able to engage in these hard conversations, the more prepared they are when it actually hits. I do think that sometimes we live in a bubble and people forget that something like domestic violence and sexual assault happens every day; it happens at home, on college campuses, in the workplace [etc].”