On Nov. 18, 2016, students at UAA and members of the community will march together to take back the night. Take Back the Night is an international event that aims at allowing large numbers of people to publicly express their anger at the sexual violence that takes place and the victim shaming that is associated with sexual assault.
“Midterms stress, people are going partying and getting off class early because of Thanksgiving. Statistically, this weekend and the week following is when the most reported sexual assaults occur,” Moira Pyhala, president of Generation Action, the club hosting the event said
Many members of the community have been reached and will be in attendance. Stand Together Against Rape (STAR), Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC), UAA Justice Club, Planned Parenthood, the UAA Student Health and Counseling center and sorority groups will be in attendance as well.
This past year, there have been many cases of sexual assault and numerous amounts of controversy with how sexual assault is being handled across the nation and even within Alaska and University of Alaska. With cases like the Brock Turner case and cases within our own UA system, it can be seen that sexual assault is something that is present in all campuses and must be fought in all campuses. In order to have an effective march a strong number of people participating is most important.
A survey was done in the spring of 2016 by the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center fount that 10.3 percent of UAA students experience sexual misconduct, sexual assault or both in the past year and 12.9 percent of students at UAF. This does not include the number of not reported incidents.
Victim shaming is fairly common within society. Blaming the victim because they were too drunk, what the person was wearing saying they shouldn’t have been out hanging out in the first place. This event is a supportive message to survivors that it is not their fault, they are not alone and members of the community support them.
Kate Fitzgerald, a Health Promotion Specialist, believes that the timeliness of the event is very important.
“With news of a recent rape at UAF coming out and the survivor stating that she no longer feels safe on campus, this is a very important time to be having this event. Take Back the Night is an empowering event for students to participate in and show that we support survivors and are taking a stand against violence,” Fitzgerald said.
The event raises awareness about sexual assault around our community. According to a study done in 2015 by Alaska Victimization Study for Anchorage, 1 in 2 women experienced sexual violence, intimate partner violence, or both in their lifetime and 1 in 13 experienced these within the past year.
The night will begin at 5 p.m. in the Gorsuch commons with time to make posters and signs. The actual march starts at 6 p.m. The march will end at Rasmuson Hall. At Rasmuson Hall, there will be a resource center hosted by STAR, AWAIC, the Student Health and Counseling Center and other support groups to be a resource to help those who have been assaulted or to those who know someone that needs help. At 7 p.m., there will be a panel that will be an overall question-based discussion around sexual assaults and how students can assist others in need.