Take Back the Night march raises sexual assault awareness


Take Back the NightBy Madisun VanGundy

Eighty students, faculty and staff marched around campus and Greekland last night to bring about awareness of sexual assault.

The Take Back the Night rally and march was an event sponsored by The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

“It’s our big event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” said Matthew Drilling, graduate student in education and coordinator for the event.

The event began at 6 p.m. April 24 at the West Terrace at the Memorial Union.

Take Back the Night is put on annually at Iowa State with the purpose of unifying the public in an awareness of violence against the people we know and love, according to the event’s program.

Drilling said the purpose of the event was to raise awareness to all students, faculty and staff about what sexual assault and consent is.

“It’s an opportunity to relate and come together and talk about stuff we don’t really talk about, but should,” said Brad Freihoefer, LGBT student services coordinator.

Michelle Boettcher, assistant dean of students and director of judicial affairs, was the keynote speaker for the evening. She spoke about activism and hope.

“It takes all different kinds of people to create change,” Boettcher said. “Don’t give up hope, because what you do matters.”

Boettcher said judicial affairs aims to help before the hurt has already happened.

Take Back the Night is an internationally recognized event with rich history, occurring worldwide since the 1970s, according to the event’s program.

After Boettcher spoke and a sexual assault survivor shared their story, the walk began.

The march moved to the Union Drive Community Center and continued to the Friley Hall arches. The fourth stop was at the Greek Triangle, and the fifth was at the Birch-Welch-Roberts courtyard.

Volunteers shared their survival stories at each stop.

“The stories can be really moving and really difficult to realize that yeah, these things do happen in our community,” Freihoefer said.

Members of Army ROTC also came to the event.

Lieutenant Rick Smith, professor of military science, said sexual assault awareness is important to have on campus and in the military.

“If this walk helps one person, then we’ve made a difference,” Lieutenant Smith said.

Other events that happened this week include the Clothesline Project, These Hands Don’t Hurt and Denim Day.

The Clothesline Project occurred April 21. It was a visual display of T-shirts hung on a clothesline that addressed the issue of violence against women.

Drilling said it was for anyone who was sexually assaulted. People could write their story or draw a picture as a way to get it out and off their chests.

The Extending Shelter and Support group run by the Assault Care Center coordinated the project.

These Hands Don’t Hurt happened April 22 and was coordinated by Alpha Kappa Lambda. People imprinted their painted hands on a large canvas as a representation of their commitment to not commit acts of violence against others.

Denim Day took place on April 23. It raised awareness about sexual assault and the importance of affirmative consent, according to the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center website.

When the march ended, everyone was invited to the Gerdin Business Building for discussion and refreshments.

“The most important thing is the result of the event,” Drilling said. “We just want to make sure that everybody is knowledgeable about what sexual assault is.”

Drilling said he felt exhilarated after the event, and he was very happy with the turnout.

“This is something that’s really important that needs to be heard,” Drilling said.