Students March Against Sexual Violence


Students protest sexual violence.

On Monday, April 11, members of the Colgate community joined together to protest sexual violence by taking part in the annual Take Back the Night March and Speak Out. These events were organized by The Network, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about sexual and relationship violence. Take Back the Night brought together Colgate students, faculty and advocates for local support services in order to provide a safe space for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

The Take Back the Night March began at 6:45 p.m. outside of Frank Dining Hall, where, despite the inclement weather, over a dozen people arrived to march their way around the campus. The marchers took turns using a microphone to chant slogans like, “Yes means yes/ No means no/ Whatever we wear/ Wherever we go,” and “Claim our bodies/ Claim our rights/ Take a stand/ Take back the night.”

The march looped past Case-Geyer Library, then moved up the hill, stopping at the steps of the Memorial Chapel before continuing through the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP) and eventually ending at the Center for Women’s Studies. At the end of the march, advocates with the Victims of Violence program presented a variety of resources for sexual violence survivors and Dennis Dougherty, an investigator with the New York State Troopers, outlined the duties of his unit, which is responsible for the investigation of sexual assaults in the Hamilton area.

At 8 p.m., the leaders of the speak- out addressed the group of about 30 people filling the Center for Women’s Studies in order to establish ground rules of respect for those in attendance. For almost two hours, those in attendance shared personal stories or simply listened to the messages of their peers. Much of what was said regarded the anger and guilt that follows an assault, as well as the frustration that comes along with Colgate’s Equity Grievance Policy.

Senior Madison Paulk, a co-leader of the Network, felt that despite a lower attendance than past years, the speak- out and march were a success.

“I think the march had light attendance due to the poor weather but… I don’t think it’s about how many people attend. Whether there are three survivors, friends or supporters present or 30, I think opening up that space for whoever may need, it is powerful. Although we usually march down Broad Street and through the library to make a larger impact, and this year we took a much shorter route, I think the event still went extremely well. While it is horrible that events like these are even needed, they do bring an awareness to the campus and have been so important to survivors and their allies over the years,” Paulk said.

 Carlene Holt, an advocate with the Victims of Violence rape crisis center, was disappointed with the low turnout at the march, especially given last semester’s protests of Colgate’s policies regarding sexual violence.

“We usually attend these events every year, so we’re here to show our support for, especially this year, the awareness that needs to happen about sexual assault that happens on college campuses… I have to say I’m a little disappointed that there aren’t any faculty here or Campus Safety [officers] during the march. In years past I know they have participated in the march so I’m  surprised that they’re not here now. I was hoping to see some administrative representation,” Holt said.

Despite this year’s smaller turnout, Holt was still glad to be able to provide the community with resources, and she encouraged anyone with questions to reach out to the Victims of Violence confidential, toll-free hotline at 315-366-5000.

“There’s someone on call on the hotline every day of the year, no matter what time, to answer questions, to give information, to provide support, to provide accompaniment. We meet victims at the hospital. We will accompany them to the police station to give a statement. And we’ll guide them to resources and follow up with them to make sure that all their needs are met,” Holt said.