Students to ‘Take Back The Night’ Tuesday

On an evening in early October each year, residents of Oakland look out their windows to see a crowd of young people, mostly students, marching.

But even if they can’t see this group marching through the streets, they are likely to hear the slogans the demonstrators chant in unison, such as, “Hey, mister, keep your hands off my sister,” and “The people, united, will never be defeated.”

Erin Case, the leader of the group that is organizing this year’s march, said her favorite chant is, “Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no, yes means yes.”

Case is the president of Campus Women’s Organization, which on Tuesday will host Take Back the Night, an annual event aimed at promoting awareness of sexual assault. The event will begin in the William Pitt Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. with a brief discussion on sexual violence and gender violence.

According to figures the Pitt Police Department lists on its website, the department received reports of seven forcible sexual offenses, which include rapes and other types of sexul assault, in 2010. The department received four such reports in 2011 and eight last year.

But these are only the reported cases. Case said that most sexual assaults on college campuses go unreported. According to a study of U.S. college women that the U.S. Department of Justice released in 2005, one out of every five women in college will be raped before she leaves college.

After meeting in the Ballroom, participants will march through South Oakland beginning at approximately 7:30 p.m. to catch bystanders’ attention.

According to Case, two chant leaders memorize scripted messages beforehand and lead the group as they shout their chants while marching through the streets.

Following the march, which will last about 30 to 40 minutes, students will gather to discuss what they and others can do on Pitt’s campus to bring further awareness of the issue of sexual violence against men and women. 

Members of CWO will bring the ideas attendees discuss to Pitt’s administration to suggest ways to reduce sexual assault on Pitt’s campus.

Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou, the business manager for CWO, said in an email that she believes Take Back the Night is an important event on Pitt’s campus. 

“Take Back the Night not only brings awareness to the issue of sexual violence and assault, but lets students know that there are people on campus who care and are striving to make a change,” she said.

Although members of CWO plan and organize the event, Rainbow Alliance will play a major role in this year’s Take Back the Night event.

The LGBT advocacy group will participate in the discussion on gender violence and will work to promote the event around campus before it begins.

Brandon Benjamin, the president of Rainbow Alliance, said that “one main issue in the LGBTQA community is gender violence, especially in the transgender community.”

Benjamin, a senior, commented on his past participation in Take Back the Night. 

“It’s a pretty amazing and empowering thing to see all of those people marching for a good cause,” he said.

Kaloyeropoulou, a Pitt sophomore and women’s studies major who participated in last year’s Take Back the Night, said the march left her feeling inspired about working toward a safer campus.

“The energy and excitement at the event makes us feel like we can really change the world.”