Take Back the Night addresses sexual violence

Take Back the Night addresses sexual violence One in four women and one in seven men will be sexually assaulted in his or her lifetime. On Thursday, the University of Massachusetts’ annual Take Back the Night addressed this frighteningly real fact. Co-organizer of the event and senior Legal and Women’s Studies Major Emma McAlary said, “The goal is two-fold – one is to make survivors of sexual assault know that there are resources out there and a community that is willing to embrace them. They are not alone.”

Take Back the Night started off with guest speakers Tom Schiff Ed.D., a health educator from University Heath Services, and Brett-Geney Janiczek Beemyn from the Stonewall Center. Schiff illustrated what men can do to end violence. “I’m honored to be here and at the same time I’m appalled at the need to have this event,” said Schiff. One method he proposed is to terminate the use of passive vocabulary, like the ever-so-popular phrases, “I hit that,” or “I nailed her.” Schiff also said, “We should be approaching rape and sexual abuse as a men’s issue.”

He pointed out that the majority of sexual perpetrators are male. Member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and freshman History major Kevin Bolduc was an attendee of TBN, along with several of his fraternity brothers.

“The issue of violence against women is an issue that we all need to confront. Men are by far the cause of this violence, and we need to tackle this problem and do all that we can to end it. Hopefully in the future, events like Take Back the Night will not be necessary because sexual violence will have ended,” said Bolduc.

In a different light, Beemyn addressed sexual violence from the viewpoint of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. He pointed out that only nine states have laws protecting transgender people from discrimination in housing, credit, etc., and Massachusetts is not one of them. In the last two months, the Stonewall Center has been vandalized twice.

“It is very difficult to be visibly gender different, to be queer, in this society,” said Beemyn, stressing the urgency of progress and policy change at UMass, as well as around the country. He elaborated by saying, “We think of UMass as a progressive, forward-thinking institution, but I’m amazed at the silence around this issue. People need to recognize the importance of justice.”