Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Women were supported and encouraged as they shared their personal stories of struggles and triumphs at Take Back the Night.
Take Back the Night, held on April 19, is an international organization that encourages women to stand up against sexual violence. In the United States, thousands of colleges, universities, women’s centers and rape crisis centers sponsor Take Back the Night all over the country focusing on eliminating sexual violence.
The first documented Take Back the Night in the United States occurred over 30 years ago when Philadelphian citizens rallied together after the murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a young microbiologist who was stabbed by a stranger while walking home alone.
At Cedar Crest, Take Back the Night was organized by Kelly Ann Ryan, assistant director of residence life and a student committee of Jade Abston and Brittany O’Neal. The event was sponsored by the Student Activities Board and Residence Life.
“Take Back the Night is a unique opportunity for women to come together and support each other,” said Ryan on the importance of the event. “Women have been a part of so many diverse situations.” Amber Rubarth, an indie/folk musician, opened the night to an intimate audience in the Falcon’s Nest. Whether playing the sweet strums of her guitar or gently tapping the delicate keys of the piano, the addition of her quirky, unique lyrics helped set the mood of support for the evening.
“I’ve never done anything quite like this before,” said Rubarth, “but I think it’s incredible. If there wasn’t an event like this, it would be hidden. It’s giving everyone strength to not feel like a victim.”
After Rubarth’s hour set, the intimate audience marched around the campus, shouting chants like “claim our bodies, claim out right, take a stand, stake back the night,” in the pitch dark. Their voices became one as they were determined to “end the silence, stop the violence.”
The march ended at Blaney Hall, where the grand steps became a stage and the chanting turned into a silence of respect and observance.
The intimate audience sat on the cool outside ground as they listened to the keynote speaker, Ashley Hope.
“I’m an activist, I’m a website programmer, I’m a feminist, I’m transgender,” said Hope, “sexual violence crosses all of these borders.”
Ready to commit suicide last October, she has risen above an abusive family and spouse as well as an unsupportive therapist. According to Hope, she’s in a much better place now.
“The only difference between then and now is that I didn’t have any hope,” said Hope. “You can overcome anything, as long as you keep that hope alive.”
The intimate audience was quiet and attentive as strong young women stood up and shared the struggles that they have overcome. Each individual who shared their story received tremendous support as they spoke the words, “I’m a survivor.”
“I think the night went really well,” said Carly Athanasatos, sophomore social work major, “I thought that when we started shouting was a really empowering moment. Listening to [Hope] speak, especially outside the steps of Blaney Hall, was a really humbling experience.”
“This is my first Take Back the Night,” said Brittany Dalbow, freshman psychology and English major, “I thought it was an empowering event. All the people that were there, those who spoke and those who didn’t speak, are all courageous and beautiful.”
The date for Take Back the Night for next year has already been selected.
“We set the date a year out,” said Ryan, “but we begin organizing at the beginning of the spring. Next year, I’m looking for people to get involved who are passionate about advocacy. I want to make Take Back the Night as big as possible at Cedar Crest because we are an all women’s college, and I believe it should be one of our most promoted events each year.”