Take Back the Night: Voices Against Sexual Assault

Posters and voices rang proudly, defiantly: “Claim our bodies. Claim our rights. Take a stand. Take back the night.” 

As students left Pomona College’s Marston Quad, they marched across each of the 5C campuses in support of survivors, raising awareness and turning heads.

While Choice USA spearheaded the creation of Take Back the Night, which garnered the most attention and support it ever has this year, co-sponsors included Building Leaders on Campus (BLOC), the Sallie Tiernan Fieldhouse, Wanawake, AEPi, It Ends Here, Intercollegiate Feminist Center, Scripps Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Pomona Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, and Pitzer College’s Smart Sex Society.

Reese Gaines PO ’16, the head of the consent campaign for BLOC, expressed the importance of Take Back the Night as a 5C event. 

“Sexual assault is not any problem specific to one campus,” Gaines said. “It’s a 5C problem, and this event is bringing students from across the campus together to voice our opinions and our outrage with what’s going on in our campus and in our country.”

As a student advocate for Choice USA, Elizabeth McElvein SC ’14 hopes that Take Back the Night fosters and extends the idea of community beyond just sexual assault to other groups that experience types of harassment. She believes that this event was powerful in shattering silence around issues of sexual assault.

“It’s about creating a community for survivors and supporters of survivors of sexual assault, which is a form of political violence,” McElvein said. “Affirmative consent is the only kind of consent that is acceptable. There are no gray areas.”

At the conclusion of the march at the steps of Pitzer’s Grove House, students, including Gaines, shared personal experiences at the open mic: stories of resilience, of pain, of fear, and of hope.

Students carried the stories alongside their own experiences in writing on solidarity flags, which organizers hung on lines around Pitzer’s outdoor classroom beside the Grove House. Pie and snacks were served, and the flags bore messages such as “I won’t be victimized. I take back the night because everyone deserves to feel safe and supported in mind, body, and spirit.” 

Gail Gallagher PO ’17, who marched and listened to the stories of survivors, was excited that the event garnered so much attention. 

“People poked their heads out of their windows and walked out of their dorms to see what we were screaming about,” Gallagher said. “This guy looked confused at first but nodded his head at us once he understood what we were shouting.”​

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