UCI hosts annual Take back the night

Photo Credit: Jovany Reyes

By: Christina Acevedo

On April 17, UCI held its 22nd annual Take Back the Night  to acknowledge survivors of sexual violence within a safe community space; the event sought to increase public awareness about the traumatic events and how frequently they  occur. The event included time for survivors to share their stories, guest speakers, and a march; there were also informational booths, performances, and self-care activities.

This year, the night began with an address from Congresswoman Katie Porter, followed by a performance from the all-female student acapella group, Clair de Lune. Attendees also heard speeches from the two keynote speakers, Grace Glaser and Jane Stoever, and partook in a candlelight student march around Aldrich Park in solidarity and respect to survivors of sexual violence.

Grace Glaser, a student and sexual assault  survivor, was invited to speak to students about her experience with the intention of empowering other students to do the same.

Following her speech, UCI law professor Jane K. Stoever introduced the event, reminding students of its history and significance. In her opening, Stoever noted that Take Back the Night serves as a form of healing and uniting people in solidarity.

Stoever also touched upon how institutions have been unsuccessful in preventing gender-based violence and the importance of intersectionality as well as making sure that survivors are heard, not only in regards to their stories, but also in terms of their needs.

Students were encouraged to participate in the candlelight march along Ring Road, which began near the flagpoles, and traveled towards Donald Bren Hall through Aldrich Park, and finally back to the original starting point.

While they marched, participants chanted rhymes, including: “We are women, we are men; together, we fight to take back the night,” “2,4,6,8, no more date rape” and “Join together, free our lives; we will not be victimized.”

At the conclusion of the march, booths hosted by campus organizations and offices, as well as sororities and fraternities, all worked to bring awareness to the serious issue of sexual violence by presenting interactive and creative ways to approach, address, and understand instances of sexual violence.

Zeta Phi Rho sorority’s booth offered tips on how to practice self-care through acupressure and essential oils, a method used to provide relief in the case that a student becomes triggered by something or someone but is unable to remove themselves from the situation immediately.

“Relaxation through oil sensations, which is obviously not a permanent solution, helps when you find yourself in a position you can’t remove yourself from immediately,” said Alyssa Talaugon, a liaison from the CARE office and  Zeta Phi Rho.

“Maybe you need to take a final exam, and when you enter the classroom, somebody who causes you trauma is present; you can’t remove yourself immediately, but by using acupressure and different essential oils is a discrete way to relax yourself,” said Talaugon.

Other booths, like the Psychology Student Association’s “We believe in you tree,” was centered around craft activities.

“What you do is design your heart [a small wooden heart was provided at the booth], so you can draw on it, or write something heartfelt on it. You can make it for yourself, a friend, a stranger — or, you can hang it up on our small tree for a stranger to take and carry as words of encouragement,” said fourth-year criminal law major Ashley Griffith.

The night concluded with performances such as UCI’s West African Dance Group as well as the university’s Korean drumming group, Hansori. Final speeches were delivered by sexual violence survivors who shared their experiences with students.