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‘Take Back the Night’ March 2022

Student organizers held a Take Back the Night—a worldwide movement raising awareness and action against sexual violence—march on April 7 to bring awareness to sexual violence on campus and in the greater community. This was the first in-person Take Back the Night Event in three years, student organizers explained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Take Back the Night continues to be a community action intended to raise awareness about sexual violence, empowering one another and showing solidarity with, or as, individuals impacted by violence,” Alison Hagani ’22 said during the introduction to the march. 

The Take Back the Night march historically dates back to England in the late 1800s as woman protested against violence against women happening at night, one student organizer—Vidushi Poddar ’24 explained to community members. The movement picked up in the 1970’s to bring awareness toward sexual violence and today Take Back the Night affiliated marches and events occur in over 30 countries, she explained. 

“We’d like to acknowledge that Take Back the Night originated during what some would call “Second Wave Feminism,” a period of the feminist movement that was dominated by White women and neglected both women of color and the violence experienced by other individuals, including trans folks,” said Poddar. 

During the opening remarks, student organizers also discussed the prevalence of sexual violence on campus. Lyric Siragusa ’24 spoke about the Campus Climate Survey— a survey meant to understand the opinions of students regarding sexual misconduct on campus. The last survey data community members have access to is from 2019. Siragusa cited some statistics from the survey, stating that, “Among other things, the campus climate survey found that 10% of men, 21% of women, and 36% of gender-nonconforming students having experienced sexual assault since becoming a student at Brandeis University.”

“We recognize that Brandeis University’s own perception and data on campus violence doesn’t encompass the true scope of this disproportionate violence. Those who have been impacted by violence may have a multitude of valid reasons for not wanting to report or disclose their experience—fear of retaliation, of not being believed, and distrust of institutions that have continuously perpetrated violence [against marginalized communities] to name a few,” said Siragusa.

Community members gathered at the Lights of Reason at 6:30 p.m. outside of the Rose Art Museum for the opening remarks of the event. Students tabled at the location to offer sensory objects to community members including flashlights and earplugs. The sensory objects were offered in order to make the event more accessible, Hagani explained. They were made available by The Disabled Students Network (DSN)—a community on campus for disabled students to connect through their identities, according to their Instagram page—members in order to make the event more accessible. In addition, to make the event more accessible, there was a stop on the march route at the Blue Booths in the Fellow’s Garden where students had the opportunity to stop and enjoy refreshments. 

There were approximately 35 community members in attendance for the march. The route began at the Lights of Reason and community members then traveled up past the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) all the way to the base of the Rabb Steps. 

After the march through campus, student organizers of Take Back the Night and members of the DSN hosted rooms for students to reflect and heal from any experiences with sexual violence they may have had. There was a reflection and self-preservation room led by the DSN that offered different activities for students including an art station, a phone cleansing station and a reflection space. Additionally, there was another room led by the DSN and students were encouraged to move back and forth at their own comfort level between the rooms. The spaces were designated for students only. 

Student organizers also offered resources for students that are affiliated with the university. “Peer Advocates from the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center on shift from 6:30 – 9:00 PM EST. They are available to meet in person in Usdan G-108 (to the right of Levin ballroom), via our anonymous Chat box and text line, or through our 24/7 hour hotline (781-736-3370),” Hagani informed the crowd. Additional resources Hagani mentioned were, “Students Talking About Relationships (STAR) also has virtual office hours tonight from 6pm-10pm. 6-Talk has a hotline open from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. every day, which can be reached at 781-736-8255.”

The university has held Take Back the Night marches for the past eight years typically being held later in the Spring Semester. The 2022 March was the first to be held in person again after the COVID-19 pandemic. The last in-person take Back the Night event at Brandeis prior to the 2022 March was in 2019. The 2021 Take Back the Night event was held virtually over Zoom, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article.

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