Around 100 students gathered Thursday evening in preparation for Take Back the Night, a march down Sheridan Road protesting sexual assault. As part of College Feminists, Take Back the Night, also the name of the organization, puts together a week of events related to promoting awareness about sexual assault and rape. Earlier in the week, they screened the movie “Audrie and Daisy” and a Northwestern law professor discussed the changing laws surrounding rape under the Trump administration.
This year the turnout to the protest dropped compared to previous years, according to Medill junior Sarah Van Cleve, co-chair of Take Back the Night. She said it was particularly disappointing “given the current campus climate,” but pointed out that the poor weather might have been a factor as well.
Adam Davies, a Weinberg freshman in SHAPE, kicked off the march with a speech sharing his story, addressing the fact that only a handful of male students were in the crowd. Van Cleve said this was different from previous years.
“In the past, IFC chapters have always shown up to [Take Back the Night] in larger numbers, typically with banners or signs,” she said.
Take Back the Night reached out to the IFC this year but received no response, Davies said.
“I'm not sure whether they as a whole chose not to attend [Take Back the Night] or if it was purely the decision of individual members, but the large scale absence of men, particularly straight white men and fraternity men, definitely sent a message,” Van Cleve said. “Given that, we are appreciative of the men that did come, both as supporters or as survivors themselves.”
Weinberg sophomore Brendan Colgan was one of the few men in attendance.
“Men have to take more personal responsibility when it comes to fighting sexual assault and show up to events like the march,” Colgan said. “Simply listening to survivors increases your knowledge about systematic rape culture in our society significantly.”
Medill junior Hannah Johnson, co-chair of Take Back the Night, felt a big part of the week was to make survivors feel more comfortable on campus.
“In my perspective, I feel like the University hasn’t in many aspects made this a safe place for survivors to have an open dialogue about assault,” Johnson said.
Other initiatives by Take Back the Night this week include a self-defense workshop on Saturday.