Speak UP “Takes Back the Night”

Kelsey Werkheiser, Special Features Editor

Speak UP hosted their “Take Back the Night” event on the Science Quad on Oct. 27. The name is in reference to how women often fear for their safety when walking alone at night, and the event acts as a way to take back the night by honoring victims and speaking out against sexual violence.  

The first Take Back the Night protest took place in England in the 1870s, and later found its way to the U.S. in the 1970s. Now, this protest takes place annually and internationally in big cities and on small college campuses. 

The event began with brief speeches from President John Bravman and Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Advocacy Coordinator Kristin Gibson. 

Fae Groves ’24, Speak UP events coordinator, concluded the opening remarks. In her speech, she called attention to the responsibilities of administrators when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual violence on campus. 

It is the responsibility of those in power to establish a culture of accountability amongst perpetrators of all kinds of violence,” Groves said in an email. “Victim-survivors deserve to be supported, acknowledged, believed and protected by their peers and the institutions that they attend—that is the bare minimum.”

“As the Events Coordinator for Speak UP, I have negative first-hand experiences and pushback for doing the work that we do, which I made a priority to call out in my speech,” Groves said. “Specifically, it is extremely frustrating for victim-survivors and their allies to see figures from administration speak at events like Take Back the Night for performative purposes or for PR.”

One of the main features of the event are the stories, speeches and poems shared by students and faculty. Speak UP members Ariel Ulrich ’25, Dora Kreitzer ’25 and Molly Tuthill ’24 shared anonymous stories submitted by students. 

Graduate assistant Hannah Holt shared information about her research on campus sexual violence. Director of Equity & Inclusive Excellence Jocelyne Scott then shared some of her personal experiences. 

Amanda Kalaydjian ’24 and Kaia Rendo ’23 shared personal stories, and Helena Strauss ’24 read a poem written by Ricky Rodriguez ’23. 

With the conclusion of this statement, attendees were then asked to follow Maxwell Chen ’23 and Makenna Luzenski ’23 as they led another main feature of this event—a march around campus. The walk went around the back of the senior apartments and through the fraternity chapter houses, then returned back to the Science Quad. 

We used to host this event in the Smith-Vedder Quad,” Groves said. “We changed the location to maximize accessibility for attendees and to maximize the number of populations exposed to the march.”

Take Back the Night was one of the final events of Speak UP’s “No More Month,” a month of events dedicated to bringing attention to the issue of campus sexual violence. Throughout the month, Speak UP members and other supporters would participate in “Purple Thursdays” by wearing the color in solidarity with victim-survivors of interpersonal violence. 

Another display of solidarity throughout the month was the Red Flag Campaign. Members of the Bucknell community wrote aspects of unhealthy relationships on red flags and healthy aspects on blue flags, which were then displayed on the uphill ELC lawn on October 13 – 28.

There was a screening of the documentary Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story at the Campus Theatre on Oct. 18.  The documentary details the story of Cyntoia Brown, a young woman who was forced into prostitution and was incarcerated for shooting an abuser and her journey to clemency. The screening was followed by a letter-writing session to incarcerated victim-survivors in collaboration with the Women’s Resource Center.

On Oct. 30, Speak Up held the final event of No More Month, “Walk a Mile in their Shoes.” Participants wore teal and walked a mile to raise money for Transitions of PA. 

Speak UP applications are currently open, and those interested should reach out to Kristin Gibson.

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