Taking Back the Campus

Maggie Fried

On Monday, the path leading up to the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) was lined with paper tombstones that displayed facts about violence against women. These signs, as well as an event that was held later that evening, raised awareness about domestic abuse. Women’s Studies, as well as IASO, a group aimed at awareness and prevention of domestic violence, co-sponsored the event called “Take Back the Night,” which began with a march from Frank Dining Hall to the Coop and ended with a speak-out. Although the event has been taking place for several years, this is the first year in which IASO helped to sponsor the event.

“[The event] has been going on for quite awhile — over eight or nine years — but it was always sponsored by SCRC (Sexual Crisis Resource Center), and it was always strong,” IASO advisor Colleen Nassimos said. “We decided that we are going to do it this year since we are the domestic violence group.”

Approximately 30 people were in attendance for the march, including faculty, students and representatives from outside organizations. Each participant had his or her own reason for attending.

“I have friends who have experienced domestic violence; which [sic] has made me want to be involved in awareness of domestic violence,” first-year Ali Wohlers, who helped organize the event, said.

The march began at Frank and proceeded to the steps of the chapel. Participants carried banners with facts about abuse and shouted cheers about stopping violence against women. Everyone was supposed to be carrying candles, but due to the inclement weather, the candles were dropped from the program.

Upon reaching the chapel, the group stopped for a few moments while students and faculty read stories of rape and domestic violence victims. The group then proceeded to the Women’s Studies Center, where more stories were read and finally to the Coop, where the group paused once more before going into the Coop TV Room.

The “speak-out,” which took place in the Coop TV room, was a safe environment in which students and faculty could speak about abuse; therefore, nothing said during this part of the event was to be repeated afterwards, so that those who spoke would feel comfortable sharing personal stories without fearing that everyone else would learn about their private lives.

The Colgate community was able to learn more about domestic violence because the event raised awareness not only among the participants, but also among the people who did not attend.

“I think it [the event] impacts the students who speak,” Nassimos said. “I think that we kind of get fooled because people have such great things in their lives and everything seems great, but domestic violence can happen to anyone.”