Students march to raise awareness on sexual violence

By Joe Chilson

A group of 50 people marched through the streets of South Oakland Tuesday night to fight back… A group of 50 people marched through the streets of South Oakland Tuesday night to fight back against women’s fears of walking alone at night.

During their seventh annual Take Back the Night march, Campus Women’s Organization sought to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence and to remind people that rape is not just a women’s issue, but one that affects everyone. The group made sure to have their voices resonate through the South Oakland community as they marched on South Bouquet Street and Oakland Avenue at 8 p.m.

Chants such as “Pittsburgh unite, take back the night” and “Hey mister, get your hands off my sister” brought students out on their porches, while others peered out their windows.

Tracey Hickey, the CWO office administrator, said that the march mimics the demonstrations that were popular during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s, which were held to protest the fact that women were afraid to walk the streets alone at night.

“At first there were some exclusion issues, but it became a lot more inclusive as awareness grew,” she said about the marches, which used to be for women only but have since welcomed male and transgender allies.

After the half-hour march, the group came back to the William Pitt Union for bystander training.

CWO business manager Danielle Bissert said that a representative from Pittsburgh Action Against Rape spoke to the audience about what to do in a situation where one suspects a sexual assault might occur. If someone sees a friend in what appears to be a dangerous situation, the representative suggested distracting the assailant, appealing to their better nature or teaming up with other people to talk the person out of it.

The participants then split up into groups to act out scenarios.

“It was really funny to see everybody act things out, but I could really see that stuff happening at a party,” Bissert said. “I’m sure everyone’s been at a party and been in an uncomfortable situation, and I think this could really help.”

Tim Craft, a lab technician for the anthropology department and one of the men at the rally, said he marched because CWO does a lot of work with the Rainbow Alliance, an organization that he is a part of.

He said that he believes an event like this shows victims of sexual violence that “there’s resources out there, and people willing to help.”

Hickey said one in four women and one in seven men are victims of sexual violence and that in a typical academic year, three percent of women on college campuses report surviving rape or attempted rape.

“If that thought freaks you out and pisses you off, then you should be here,” Hickey said.

Tracey Hickey is a columnist for The Pitt News.