Take Back the Night held virtually for students

April 23, 2021

Take Back the Night raises awareness of sexual violence on Brandeis’ campus and provides a space to empower individuals effected by violence. “Take Back the Night is a global effort to raise awareness, provide support and empower those individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence,” said Priya Sashti ’24, a peer advocate from the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC). 

Take Back the Night is typically held in-person, though this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held virtually. Kate Greenberg ’22, a member of the Intersectional Feminist Coalition (IFC) a club on campus which discusses intersectional feminist ideas, said that the online platform allows participants to be involved in whatever way makes them most comfortable. She offered for people to keep their cameras off or change their Zoom name in order to feel more comfortable in the space. “The point, after all, is that we Take Back the Night in whatever way feels the most empowering and safest to us,” said Greenberg.

“The pervasive nature of campus sexual violence requires this student activism and while we acknowledge the international impact of sexual violence, we want to specifically highlight its prevalence on Brandeis’ campus,” said Lauren Formanski ’22, a member of IFC and PARC. 

Formanski discussed the statistics from the 2019 Campus Climate Survey, a document outlining students’ attitudes, experiences and opinions of sexual misconduct and violence on campus, according to the survey. According to the survey, 10 percent of men, 21 percent of women and 36 percent of gender nonconforming students experienced sexual assault on campus. 58 percent of students chose not to report because they felt partially at fault, 19 percent feared retaliation and 18 percent feared they would not be believed. These statistics disproportionately affect  students of color, trans and non-binary students as well as international students, said Formanski.

Sammi Cohen ’22, a member of the IFC, mentioned that these statistics do not represent the actual number of students who experience sexual violence since less than 13 percent of people formally report the violence, according to Cohen.

“As a community, it’s crucial that we recognize the ways sexual violence on our campus both reflects and reinforces dyanmics of privilege and oppression, especially around race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and more,” said Cohen.

The event held three breakout rooms for students to choose to participate in—a self-preservation room, an action room and a reflection room, said Sarah Baum ’22, a peer advocate at PARC. The self-preservation room provided a space for students to perform various self-care activities, led by facilitators, with a focus on self-love, mindfulness and grounding. The action room partnered with the Black Action Plan leaders who presented their action plan and collaborated with students on ideas. The reflection room provided a space for students to respond to prompts regarding experiences with violence, in this room participants could also share prompts if they wanted, according to Baum. 

Resources were offered to students in attendance and they were encouraged to use them if needed. Resources included: PARC’s confidential online chat function, the PARC Hotline at 781-736-3370, Students Talking About Relationships (STAR) virtual office hours and 6-Talk hotline available at 781-736-8255. PARC a campus resource to provide education, empowerment and support for individuals affected by violence and the IFC is a club which promotes and discusses intersectional feminist ideas. 

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