UAA students rallied for the third annual Take Back the Night march on Sept. 28. Along with representatives from the Student Health and Counseling Centers and some community members, the students protested sexual violence by marching across campus and on Lake Otis Parkway.
“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no,” the students chanted in unison. They met before the rally to make signs and posters in the Student Union Den, where some student artwork was on display. A conversation among the participants in the Student Union Den followed the march.
The event was put on by Generation Action at UAA with help of the SHCC. Generation Action is a student club dedicated to raising awareness on issues relating to sexual violence and reproductive health. They also educate students about on campus resources and work on voter engagement programs.
UAA student Liz Rangel serves as president of the group. She was happy with the outcome of Take Back the Night and described the atmosphere of the event as a “humbling environment.”
“I feel like every Take Back the Night is just so different from the year before,” Rangel said. “In this case, we wanted to focus primarily on survivors… so we were really trying to make a personal and accommodating space to discuss it [sexual assault] in an honest way and to hopefully connect people to resources.”
Nursing major Jess Brocker was among the students protesting sexual assault at the event. The participation in this event is part of her capstone class project about the health and safety of women, especially on the UAA campus. She is working on the project with three of her classmates and thinks that the event helps increase awareness about sexual assault.
“It builds camaraderie between women and makes you feel safe. It’s good to know that everybody here feels the same way and that it’s an important issue that we’re all working on,” Brocker said.
Establishing a sense of community between participants was a goal of the event, Rangel explained. Generation Action wants to get more people to engage actively in the conversation around sexual assault and violence.
“It’s a difficult conversation, and there were tears that night, but it’s a really important one to have and I think it’ll benefit everybody in the long run,” Rangel said.
Rangel thinks that it is vital to make the issue personal to every student.
“[Many students] don’t realize the role that they play even if they are not a survivor themselves, or they think they don’t know a survivor; it is most likely that they do,” Rangel said.
The conversation in the Den also focused on the role of the university in raising awareness about the issue. However, a big part of responsibility remains with the students Rangel said.
“It’s a matter of… realizing that it’s not just a training that you have to do so that you can enroll in classes, it’s a duty that we all face as students,” Rangel said.
She also emphasized the importance of Take Back the Night considering current events, such as the Justin Schneider case in the state of Alaska.
“It’s just been a tough week for survivors in general, I think, and for anybody who holds stakes in sexual assault,” Rangel said.
With the upcoming local elections in mind, Generation Action is working on increasing voter literacy of UAA students in October.
“It’s more important than ever to be very vocal to politicians… The indifference that a lot of students have in voting plays a role in the indifference that we have just as being a part of this community and making it safer for everybody,” Rangel said. “There’s just a lot that we can be doing. But that does entail voting as well.”
Students seeking to get involved with Generation Action can email the group at [email protected]