Held annually, the 2013 Take Back the Night called for social awareness on the subject of rape and sexual abuse plaguing society.
Students, faculty and guests gathered at the steps leading up to the campus flagpoles on Wednesday evening to commemorate the annual Take the Night event hosted by UCI’s Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE).
With the sun setting and flags flying at half-mast in memory of the recent Boston bombing, the crowd gathered and sat on the stone steps as they listened to the emotional speeches and stories from featured speakers. The event opened with a musical performance by Ashley and the Band, followed by speeches from CARE director Mandy Mount and addresses by Interim Director Mike Knox of the UCI New Student Programs and Dawn Foor of the Sexual Assault Victim Services of the Community Service Programs, Inc.
“We live in a society where politicians try to tell us that there is such a thing as a legitimate rape or who tell women who are raped that they should accept the gift that god has given them, where high school boys rape young girls and send photos out on social media without concern that what they’ve done is wrong or that they will be held accountable,” Mount said to the gathered crowd. “We still live in a country where one in three women and one in six men will be victimized by completed or attempted assault during their lifetime.”
Take Back the Night is a tradition that began in 1975 in Philadelphia, when local individuals and community members came together to rally and voice their anger against the threat of abuse and sexual violence after a late-night murder shook their community. The marches are held across several campuses nation-wide, and usually feature speeches and rallies to raise awareness as well as a candlelight vigil held by all in attendance.
“The theme of tonight’s event is ending sexual violence one step at a time. I do believe that it is possible, and especially with so many committed and confidant people out here tonight,” Mount said.
Despite the emotions underlying the event, organizers brought some cheer to the solemnity, as guests were encouraged to visit all of the booths and speak to the sponsoring organizations. Attendants carried a passport where each booth would give out stamps for them to enter a raffle in order to receive prizes offered by sponsors of this year’s event. The Health Education Center also featured their station called Absolut Fantasy, Absolut Reality, where they discuss and raise awareness on the idea of consent and the inability to give consent when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Most people don’t realize that if you’ve been drinking alcohol or having other drugs, then you technically cannot consent to sex,” Kate Barker, a 4th Public Health major and an Administrative Intern and organizer for the Health Education Center’s event station, said. “Tonight is really expanding people’s knowledge and awareness of the issue to better address this within our culture.”
HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response were also in attendance along with four of their trained response dogs to provide comfort for students or any event attendants who want or need to be comforted through the emotionally charged afternoon. Other organizations contributing to Take Back the Night included CHAMPS, the UC Irvine Police Department, as well as several Greek, fraternal and Pan-Hellenic organizations, including Alpha Phi Omega, Sigma Kappa and Delta Gamma.
“What I try to do is just being active and raise awareness and get people a little bit fired up and acknowledge the problem,” guest speaker Dawn Foor, whose speech concluded the keynote addresses shortly before the candlelight march began, said. “Students are the future. They’re our future leaders, they’re out future lawmakers, they’re our future everything. I think for older adults, it’s our job to inform them and give them other choices than they might be given in everyday life.”