On Friday, May 7, a small but passionate and motivated group of Knox students braved chilly and blustery conditions to “Take Back the Night” by marching in protest against sexual violence and discrimination. The march, organized by Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS), commenced at 9:15 p.m. on the steps of Old Main.
Although approximately 16 students were present, the group represented a broad coalition of Knox’s various social circles, with men as well as women present, some Greek members and, of course, some of this school’s most vocal activists.
Freshman Amanda Lee carried a megaphone throughout the night, leading the group in chants such as, “Sexists, rapists, anti-gay, don’t you take our night away!” and “2, 4, 6, 8, no more date rape!”
“As a survivor, this event is important to me because it shows the campus we have a united front against sexual violence,” said Lee.
Other students had slightly different reasons for attending the march.
Senior Rachel Bauer said that she was there for “a chance to stand up against unfair sexual practices.” She said, “I’m tired of being afraid of these things, of anything, really.”
Freshman Kaitlyn Duling’s reason actually shifted during the event. She said, “Now, after marching, I feel that the purpose of this event is for women and supporters to be physically present and vocal. A lot of activism on campus is done through paper — posters, flyers, e-mails, and such — but most people don’t read those or pay much attention to them. This march gives us the opportunity to send a forceful, physical message to campus.”
“Take Back the Night” is an international movement that is traditionally only comprised of women, senior Joey Firman explained. But, this year, SASS broke that tradition.
“Men have an important role to play in stopping sexual violence. Males, statistics show, are responsible for a majority of sexually violent crimes. If we don’t speak out, if we don’t take action, we have a potentially complicit role,” said Firman.
From Old Main, the group proceeded to go down Cherry Street into downtown Galesburg. Onlookers seemed puzzled as they attempted to figure out what the students were marching for. From downtown, through the public square, the group marched to the grassy quad in the middle of the apartments. Though few were outside to see and hear the march, many students could be seen observing the marchers from windows and doorways.
Still yelling strong despite the cold weather, participants stopped at Post Lawn, in the Quads and finally dispersed back at Old Main.
It seemed fitting that this march should take place right after Dan Savage, syndicated sex columnist, held a Q&A with students about sex and relationships.; However, the two events were not planned in conjunction, informed senior Kate Robbins. In any case, themes of sexual freedom and openness echoed each other in both events.
For those looking to be more involved with SASS and the fight against sexual violence, Robbins recommended regularly attending meetings of SASS. She said, “Our meetings are a place where you can be surrounded by friends and survivors. We’re together, united. Your whole life you grow up scared, you are told that you should not go to this or that place at such and such a time. We’re fighting so that we can go anywhere at anytime without being afraid of sexual assault.”