Students, staff and faculty gathered at the rock Thursday evening for Take Back the Night, an event hosted by Northwestern College Feminists to support sexual violence survivors and to protest against systems that perpetuate sexual violence.
"It's a way to take action and to demand what we want," said Carrie Wachter, the main speaker of the event and the new director of Northwestern's Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE). "We want to show what our community wants, what our culture wants, how we want to be treated, how we want to be respected and how we want to be treated on our own terms. It's a way to engage students, staff and faculty that normally don't get engaged to come out and see why it's important to get involved in sexual violence work."
The event began with Weinberg sophomore Isabel Sturla, one of the organizers of Take Back the Night, introducing Wachter, who then spoke to attendees about the importance of having a safe space on campus and what the term "safe space" means for different people. Wachter also stressed the importance of creating a safe space that is inclusive.
"We want to be inclusive of all individuals' experiences, of all individuals' labels and how they term their experiences with sexual violence," she said.
Members of multiple student groups, sororities and fraternities then showed support by marching through the Arch, down Sheridan Road and right at Kellogg, continuing on until they reached Dittmar Gallery in Norris.
"Alpha Chi is here because domestic violence and sexual assault are very important to us," said SESP sophomore Kendall Speer. "We're really about women supporting women, women empowering women, and I think that's what Take Back the Night is about."
Fraternities also came out to show support.
"It's good to see Greek life show up to these things to prove that we do care about these types of issues," said Medill junior and Delta Chi brother Ben Sanders.
Other student groups, including Rainbow Alliance, marched alongside fraternities and sororities to challenge the heteronormative nature of discussions around sexual violence.
"We want to show solidarity and that sexual assault is not something that happens in exclusively heterosexual spaces; it happens in queer spaces as well," said Weinberg sophomore Carlie Jansen, one of the co-presidents of Rainbow Alliance. "It's important that everyone, regardless of their gender identities or sexual orientations, feels safe."
According to Sturla, rape culture is a relevant topic at Northwestern due to recent events on college campuses across the country, including Title IX investigations and movements like Carry That Weight.
"The best thing you can say to somebody who is opening up about a trauma or sexual violence is, 'This wasn't your fault and I believe you,'" Sturla said. "That can save so much damage to a survivor and that's exactly what the truth is."
A survivor speakout at Dittmar followed the march.
Editor's note: Ben Sanders is a former NBN contributor.