April 3, 2014
Dozens of students gathered for the Take Back the Night event, which aims to raise awareness of unreported rape and sexual assaults on campus, on the steps of Price Auditorium on April 2.
“You are someone who has the power,” said Professor Lisette Shillig, who teaches English and also helps run the HOPE Center. “As students, you have more power than the faculty to let the administration know that you don’t want to be on a campus that allows sexual assault.”
The event is part of a nationwide movement that started in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and occurs in April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“You and thousands of others are here, making a statement – That we are not going to stand by and let sexual assault happen,” said Shillig.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 60 percent of rapes are not reported. To illustrate how common this situation is, students were asked to look at the bottom of their cups for some kind of mark. An X symbolized rape, an O meant the drinker had been roofied and a triangle represented sexual assault.
Approximately 10 of the near 60 people in attendance had cups marked with an X. Out of those remaining, approximately five of them held up cups with an O. Two more red cups, approximately, had triangles. “Rape culture is not just a phrase on social media. It is something that affects us all in our everyday lives,” said Alexa Weissert, a senior majoring in English who works at the HOPE Center.
Following the planned speakers, there was a time for anybody who wanted to speak to come forward and share their experiences with sexual assault or rape. Several students shared their own personal poetry that were inspired by their experiences.
“If you remain silent, nothing will ever change,” said Mark Smith, who works at LHU. “I hope you don’t remain silent, because who knows who else could be affected by it.”
Photos courtesy of Kyra Smith-Cullen