Rally takes back night
Students speak against sexual violence
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:04
“Take Back the Night” was an event held on April 11 which was intended to help stop sexual violence and to raise awareness around the issue.
The rally was sponsored by the UVM Women’s Center and H.O.P.E. Works, which offer multiple resources for victims such as group and individual counseling, as well as a hotline and online chatting.
The event, which featured the UVM Top Cats, Cat’s Meow and state Rep. Kesha Ram as the guest speaker, began with a rally in front of the Royall Tyler Theatre.
“There was an incredible turnout,” Ram said. “The crowd had a lot of energy.”
After the musical performances, Ram gave a speech that honored victims of sexual violence and inspired students to have their voices heard. Victims were reassured that they are not alone and that help is out there.
“I think Vermont in general is safer than other states because we know a lot of the folks within our community,” Ram said. “But I think in some ways we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security about how safe we really are.”
Ram emphasized that sexual and gendered violence can happen to anyone and that it takes continuous hard work to put an end to it.
“To honor victims of violence, we need to make this event bigger and stronger and think about these issues year-round,” Ram said.
After Ram’s speech, supporters marched downtown holding banners and chanting, “Take back the night.” They headed to Burlington city hall for the speak-out portion of the event.
Juliet Critsimilios, a senior and organizer of the event, led the march downtown.
“The march was so great,” Critsimilios said. “I got to yell into a bullhorn and walk down Church Street with amazing people behind me supporting the cause.”
Junior Connor Rowntree said that he thought Ram’s speech was passionate and would motivate people to take action.
“It’s hard not to get emotionally charged when you hear the stories of victims within our own community,” he said.
During the speak-out, survivors of sexual and gender violence shared their stories in support of other victims and encouraged them not to remain silent.
“The speak-out was so powerful,” Critsimilios said. “The survivors that got up to share their stories — those are the people I admire and respect so much. They are so strong and courageous.”