The Network Hosts Annual Take Back the Night March

The Network hosted its Take Back the Night march — an annual event the sexual violence awareness student group holds in collaboration with Haven and the COVE during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The march, held on April 12 for the first time on campus since 2019, is part of the global Take Back the Night movement.

“Take Back the Night […] provides an opportunity for all members of Colgate’s community to speak out, march and stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence. This is an event to raise awareness, allow the opportunity to speak out against violence and show solidarity for survivors,” Haven Assistant Director Michelle Passonno said. 

The event began with a 30-minute poster-making social in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) TV Room, where participants designed a variety of signs.  “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance” and “We Believe You” were among the posters that attendees brought outside of the Coop as they began the march through the quad and down the hill following remarks from the organizers, co-leaders of The Network seniors Amelia Showers and Julia Sicklick. Senior Nicole Weiss led the march with a megaphone, starting chants while she guided the group through campus. 

Phrases including, “Stop the violence, no more silence, women fight back!” and “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means NO!” echoed throughout campus as the group passed by the Case-Geyer Library and walked down Broad Street. The march intentionally walked past the houses of Greek Life Organizations in an attempt to recognize the role that fraternities and sororities play in a culture of sexual violence, according to Weiss, who previously served as the sexual assault prevention and support chair of Colgate’s Panhellenic Council. 

The march continued back up the hill with Weiss in the lead, who continued the chants. The group headed back up past the library and up the Persson Hall steps to maximize their student audience. 

“The march is a visual manifestation of the initiatives that we work towards that people can see moving throughout campus as opposed to meetings and other forums we have. It is more visible to campus so hopefully it sparks more conversation,” Showers said. 

The event concluded at the steps of the Chapel for brief speeches from both Passonno and the Help Restore Hope Center Campus Advocate Julianne Thomas. In their speeches, both Thomas and Passonno emphasized the importance of providing support and strength to survivors of sexual violence on Colgate’s campus. 

“Together, we are here to show all survivors, whether they have shared their story or not, and regardless of when the harms happened, that they are not alone and we stand in solidarity with you,” Passonno said. “Supporting survivors requires all members of our campus community getting involved and working together committed to seeing all of us as part of the solution to ending sexual violence and interpersonal violence in all forms.” 

After delivering their speeches, Haven handed out free water bottles and bracelets to attendees and invited all survivors to the Survivor Speak Out held by Haven after the march. This closed event provided a comfortable space for those affected by sexual violence to discuss the topic with Haven staff and a counselor present. 

Haven Ambassador first-year Meghan Subak, who attended the march, expressed excitement about the large turnout and seemingly powerful impact on Colgate’s campus. 

“It was great to see so many people show up for survivors of sexual assault both at Colgate and in general and I thought it was really amazing to see everyone come together in person for such an important cause,” Subak said. 

Just under 100 students participated in the march, either holding their own signs, following along with the chants or just present to show their support. As organizers hoped, the march created dialogue about sexual assault at Colgate and generated awareness about the issue. However, the conversation is not over as Haven encourages all students and members of the community to engage with the resources and events planned for the rest of April, including trauma-sensitive yoga, and ask-an-advocate hours with Help Restore Hope.

“There are a variety of opportunities that promote healing, speaking out and learning more about sexual violence and intimate partner violence and support resources,” Passonno said.  “[On April 27], we invite members of the campus community to wear jeans as part of the international awareness day known as Denim Day, which aims to speak out against myths and misconceptions about sexual violence.”