On Thursday, April 16, Dean of Students Jamele Adams sent an email to the Brandeis community to inform them of Tuesday’s Take Back the Night walk. The annual event, a march across campus, is a show of solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and takes a stand against rape culture on campus. The event drew new controversy in 2013, after unidentified students shouted taunts at the marchers from dorms in North Quad, but its symbolic importance has only grown following student-led achievements such as the Rape Crisis Center. Take Back the Night is essential in helping survivors of assault and sexual violence see that they are not alone and are supported by their peers. The email from Dean Adams, co-signed by Andrew Flagel, Sheryl Sousa and Sheila McMahon, shows that the administration also recognizes this.
A common theme of The Brandeis Hoot’s editorials over the past academic year has been to encourage the administration to meet students halfway on important issues and to give tangible support. Student activists have been unhappy for a long time with the university’s handling of sexual assault, as evidenced by the silent protest at the Light of Reason dedication and activists interrupting a Board of Trustees meeting last semester. Administrators’ consistent appearances at the opening of the Rape Crisis Center and other recent events show that they have been listening. To actively advertise the Take Back the Night march with definitively supportive language in the email is a great way of showing that Brandeis does care about the safety of its students, even in controversial situations. Hopefully, this show of support can help to bring Brandeis’ community closer to a united fight against sexual assault and violence.
There is of course always more to be done. The Hoot reiterates its past suggestions of more unequivocal support for education and prevention services and a perpetual series of measures to make survivors and students in general feel safer on campus. However, we do applaud the administration for promoting Take Back the Night and other initiatives in such a widespread and public way. Until sexual assault and sexual violence are completely eliminated from college campuses, universities such as Brandeis must be trailblazers in the field of prevention. This week’s email is a very encouraging step, but it is just one step. Brandeis’ administrators must continue working with students in order to confront these issues, in order to finally achieve our moral goals.