Survivors and allies unite to take back the night


Julia de la Parra, Staff Writer

Despite inclement weather, community members packed the Terrace Room on Oct. 27 to discuss sexual violence

Sexual violence plagues college campuses across America, and the University is not immune. Odds are, someone you know has been affected. To combat this issue, SpeakUP Bucknell helped to organize Take Back the Night, an annual gathering held on many college campuses in which community members come together to end sexual assault and dating violence on campus.

Hundreds of students and professors from different disciplines came together in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center on Oct. 27 to pay tribute to survivors, educate themselves, and promote discussion of this issue throughout campus. The location was changed from Smith Quad due to inclement weather.

Megan Ganning ’18 and Quinn Flaks ’17 welcomed everyone and introduced SpeakUP Bucknell’s place on campus. Many students are familiar with this organization, as first-year students are required to attend various sessions throughout the year. However, SpeakUP does much more than this, especially during October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In addition to Take Back the Night, SpeakUP has sponsored events including the Clothesline Project, SToPP 5k Walk/Run to End Sexual Assault on Campus, and fraternity and sorority ally training.

The event featured a diverse array of speakers from the University’s community. Ben Gerber ’18  spoke on the topic of cultural literacy. He explained that as someone who has not experienced sexual violence firsthand, his job is to listen and be an ally. According to Gerber, by creating and perpetuating a healthy dialogue, we are combating the issue.

After Gerber, Amarachi Ekekwe ’18 performed a moving spoken word poem that portrayed a survivor as more than just their story. Alexa Gorski ’16 spoke on her personal experience with an abusive relationship during her time at the University. At the end of her speech, she thanked her support system for showing her more love than she could have ever imagined and getting her to where she is today.

Laura Poulton ’18 spoke about sexual violence pertaining to the LGBTQ community. Poulton shared a letter from a fellow member of the LGBTQ community that described their battle with sexual violence. Sexual assault in the LGBTQ community has a higher frequency and those affected are statistically less likely to seek help. Poulton spoke about the stereotypes that perpetuate a culture that allows sexual assault to happen to LGBTQ community members.

Maddie Liotta ’18 told her survivor story and her battle with mental illness. Jahi Omari ’17, a member of the University’s Black Student Union, talked about the importance of being an ally.

Finally, Grace Ragold ’13 spoke of the Advocates as a resource that can be utilized 24/7 for survivors or friends of survivors. To close, Dean of Students Amy Badal gave remarks on behalf of the University and reminded survivors of sexual violence that “you are not alone.”

Brian Hipwell ’17 and Ruby Gould ’19 led the ceremonial glow stick breaking. The lights were turned off and the students were asked to reflect on what they had heard. After a few moments, they were asked to all break their glow sticks together. The glow sticks served as a metaphor for hope when things seem dark.

After the event, students were visibly moved. People left the event equipped with new information to start their own conversations. They were asked to continue the conversation with their friends, in their organizations, and anywhere on campus.

“I think that events like this show just how powerful it is to get these conversations started about issues that are very relevant on campus […] it’s nice to see different perspectives,” Sam Sheridan ’18 said.

“[I was] really impressed with the speakers’ willingness to share their stories,” Hannah Rosen ’18 said.

For more information on sexual assault awareness and prevention:

The Advocates are on call 24/7 at 570-850-6115 (cell phone)

Public Safety (24 hours) 570-577-1111

Counseling & Student Development Center (24 hours) 570-577-1604

Student Health Services 570-577-1401

Title IX Coordinator, Kathleen Grimes 570-577-1554

Women’s Resource Center 570-577-1375

Or contact SpeakUP Bucknell at [email protected]

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