On Thurs., April 4, the Center for Campus Ministry (CCM) hosted Take Back the Night, an annual event whose purpose is to bring attention to violence against women, especially that which takes place after dark.
Sisters in Spirit and Student Development organized the event, and both men and women were encouraged to attend to show support for the cause.
Rev. Dr. Ann McKee, campus minister, led students in prayer for the evening candle light vigil and Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students, spoke to the students about the importance of events like this and general awareness on campus.
Rain prevented the planned march across campus. However, students still participated and held a silent vigil in the CCM for victims of sex crimes.
Kemp spoke to the audience about the importance of this event and its history in the United States.
Kemp quoted feminist Andrea Dworkin who said, “Women are often told to be extra careful and take precautions when going out at night. In some parts of the world, even today, women are not allowed out at night. So when women struggle for freedom, we must start at the beginning by fighting for freedom of movement, which we have not had and do not now have. We must recognize that freedom of movement is a precondition for anything else. It comes before freedom of speech in importance because without it freedom of speech cannot in fact exist.”
Kemp referenced the recent sexual assault case in Ohio that gained national attention last month.
“I was so disturbed by what happened to the girl in Steubenville, Ohio,” Kemp said. “It’s hard for me to imagine that people at a party would allow something like that to happen even if there was a lot of alcohol.”
Audience members also shared with the group thoughts, experiences and opinions on issues discussed at the event.
“It’s important for young women to know people care about them especially when they are hurt,” said Lauren Voyles, co-chair of Sisters in Spirit.. “This is a safe place for people to be around one another and discuss women’s rights, sexual violence and domestic violence.”
McKee led the group in prayer and silent vigil for those who were affected by violence around the world. Attendees lit candles to represent the hope that this events aims to bring to women.
“I thought it was really emotional,” said Tiffany Anderson, an attendee and sophomore student at MC. “I thought it was a really nice thing that they had a moment of silence for all the victims of sexual harassment and lit candles in remembrance of them.”
This year boasted the events greatest turn out since its introduction to the MC community.
“I am super pleased [with the event],” Voyles said. “This is the largest turnout. It’s good to know people support women’s rights and women’s safety.”
“I think it was awesome that a good number of people came. I think this shows a good spirit on campus,” McKee said. “This is really important because it’s easy to forget in our day to day lives and to think ‘Oh, we would never be violent’ and imagine that none of this would ever happen. Violence and coercion happen and we need to be very careful for the people we are around and how we treat each other.”