This Thursday, students will gather on the steps of Olin Library to support survivors of sexual assault and abuse for the annual Take Back the Night event. The night will begin with a march across campus, break into speak-out circles, and end with a candlelight vigil.

Over the past few years, students have been trying to raise awareness about sexual violence and the resources available to survivors on campus. Monica Fuhrmann ’12, the main organizer for Take Back the Night, said that the event forces people to acknowledge an otherwise taboo subject.

“I think the conversation on campus is nonexistent,” Fuhrmann said. “Wesleyan is supposed to be such an activist campus. People concern themselves with so many other things like race and gender but no one wants to touch this subject.”

This year, Fuhrmann hopes that Take Back the Night will be a larger event than in past years and that the discussion of sexual violence will not end with the event.

“Typically after this event, the Take Back the Night group stops meeting,” she said. “But we want it to last and be a place where people can come to talk. We want to figure out other events we can do so that people don’t forget about this issue.”

As a continuation of the event, Katie Koestner, who appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1991 as the first person to speak out publicly as a survivor of college date rape and heads the national Take Back the Night organization, will speak in the Daniel Family Commons on Thurs. Oct. 29.

In addition to the students who have been meeting over the past month to organize Take Back the Night, many other campus groups have provided support. The Student Budget Committee (SBC) provided money to bring Koestner to speak, the Sociology Department provided funding for organizing the event, and various program houses and fraternities will volunteer at the march.

“The frats involve themselves by having tables along the march, providing hot chocolate, and cupcakes,” said Sexual Assault Response Team Intern Liz Krushnic ’09. “DKE, Beta, Psi U and Womanist House are helping this year.”

The march on Thursday is intended to provide a place for survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences and demonstrate that the student body as a whole recognizes the importance of discussing the issue of sexual violence.

“It started out just for women, but now it is all-encompassing because we recognize that anyone can be sexually assaulted,” Fuhrmann said.

After leaving Olin, the march will move across campus and eventually break into two speak-out circles.

“A lot of times, [sexual assault survivors] haven’t told anyone before and the speak-out circles provide them the opportunity to break the silence,” Fuhrmann said. “But you can also just stand there and yell, you can cry, you can sing, you can read a poem, you can request a moment of silence. You can do whatever makes you feel better about what’s happened to you.”

At the candlelight vigil after the speak-out circles, there will be a count-off to demonstrate how many people have come to provide their support. Counselors from the Middletown Women and Family Center will be in Usdan after the event for debriefing sessions.

Take Back the Night events are held around the world on college campuses, at community centers, and in women’s shelters.

According to the organization’s website, “events highlight the problem of violence against women as well as the broader issues of sexual violence: sexual assault, rape, dating violence, sexual abuse, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, child abuse, internet harassment, and other unhealthy relationships.”

Fuhrmann and Krushnic hope to see a huge crowd gathered outside Olin at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“The thing about sexual assault is that it’s the number one thing that you need people to support you with and help you get through but it’s so hard to talk to people about it,” Fuhrmann said. “But [Take Back the Night] is such a positive environment where people just listen and don’t judge.”

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