Demonstrators gathered in front of the M.A.C Center on Tuesday night to participate in “Take Back the Night,” an international protest against rape and sexual violence. 

Take Back the Night is a movement that started in 1970s in protest of sexual violence, particularly against women. Kent State was selected by the Take Back the Night Foundation to join nine locations across the United States in a candlelit vigil in support of victims of sexual violence. 

“It’s (Take Back the Night) an event that was started in the 1970s to let our communities know that we will not tolerate power-based personal violence in our neighborhood, and also to let women and men know that we want them to be safe when they’re walking the streets because everyone should feel safe at night in their own community,” said Yvette Roberts, support services coordinator for the Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence (SRVSS). 

Before the march started, participants gathered to paint signs with phrases such as “real men don’t hurt women,” “you are not alone,” “your story matters” and “don’t rape.” 

Colored ribbons were distributed to participants to represent different forms of sexual violence. Pink ribbons were given to sexual assault victims who are also members of the LGBTQ community; gray ribbons for victims of stalking; purple ribbons for victims of relationship violence; teal ribbons for victims of sexual violence and blue ribbons for victims of childhood sexual abuse. 

Students in attendance said they found the march to be important and empowering.  

“I feel like with us being here and being present, we’re not being victims,” said senior English major Riley Parker. “We’re showing that we are empowered, that like we’re together and showing them support. I think that sense of empowerment within the community and everyone’s sharing their stories, it’s such a beautiful experience, and I feel like everyone is so incredibly strong and it was just amazing.”

“The event is so important for people to feel safe at night,” said graduate assistant Jessica Lockhart. “That is the root of Take Back the Night: being able to walk on campus or anywhere in the world and just feel safe at night. It’s basically taking back our voice and empowerment, and supporting survivors along the way. It’s during the night to make us feel empowered and united.”

Contact Sara Al Harthi at salhart2@kent.edu

Contact Paige Bennett at pbennet8@kent.edu

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