Chants of “Yes means yes, no means no, whatever we wear, wherever we go,” echoed down High Street as just less than 50 people marched in a Take Back the Night protest on Wednesday, April 7.
Take Back the Night is a movement against sexual assault. The protest at Miami University was organized by members of Feminists Working on Revolutionary Democracy (F-WORD) and Sexual Assault Survivor Support (SASS).
Forty-four people met at Armstrong Student Center to march to Uptown Park, where the organizers shared statistics about sexual assault and invited people to share their experiences.
Megan Ceccardi, first-year architecture major, attended the protest because she felt it was important to listen to survivors’ stories.
“I heard that people were going to be speaking and sharing their stories tonight, and I felt like it mattered so much that I heard their stories, that everyone possible was listening to them and that what they said would be heard,” Ceccardi said.
People of all genders got up on stage to speak, while attendees sat in the grass to listen and cheer them on in encouragement. Some speakers shared their stories for the first time.
“I’m tired of being a statistic,” one speaker said. “I want change.”
Lauren Kin, first-year nursing major, also attended the protest and thought hearing everyone’s story was a meaningful experience.
“You realize how many people this really affects, and that everybody has a little bit of a story to share,” Kin said, “and I think that’s really sad but also really powerful.”
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Harper Sutton, sophomore nutrition and psychology double major, is the co-president of F-WORD. She said planning the event was relatively simple because Take Back the Night has been an annual event at Miami since 1980.
“It was pretty easy to throw it together since we have a lot of precedent to work with,” Sutton said, “and it really helps to be able to work with people who are so passionate about doing this work.”
Sutton was one of the people to share her experience with sexual assault.
“I’m pretty open about my past experiences, in general,” Sutton said, “and I think sharing your experiences makes it easier for others to share theirs, and the more collective voices present makes it easier to enact change.”
Liz Browning, sophomore creative writing and professional writing double major, said events like Take Back the Night are important to prevent desensitization to topics like sexual assault.
“We get these safety bulletins in our emails, but it’s kind of [easy] to become jaded by that, it’s just, ‘Oh, it’s another safety bulletin, what am I supposed to do about it?’” Browning said. “It’s easy to get used to it, but this really puts a face to it, it puts emotion behind it, and it really shows you the effect that these events can have on people and can hopefully motivate people to educate themselves.”
Sutton thinks it’s important to have a conversation about sexual assault because it leads to change.
“I think if you don’t talk about it, you just let it keep happening, and I don’t think we should let it keep happening, especially when our administration doesn’t necessarily take it as seriously as students might,” Sutton said. “I think having these avenues to share your voice and those sorts of things are super important, especially since it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”