Students marched through Monroe Park and Linden Street on Wednesday night chanting against sexual violence and abuse during the annual “Take Back the Night” rally.
Students marched down local street raising signs that said “Take Back the Night” and “Rape is caused by Rapists not my Clothes.” A few hours before the march, students gathered at the Commonwealth Ballroom to listen to speakers, survivors’ stories and poetry and music from survivors.
“We need to understand active consent and passive consent,” said Eric Garrison, a speaker at the event. “We need to be able to voice what we want, what we believe in, what are our boundaries.”
Garrison, a VCU alumnus and sexuality counselor on campus, said students need to understand that sexual violence has never been only a women’s issue.
“It’s not a women’s issue … it’s not even a men’s issue or a trans issue. It’s a human issue,” Garrison said.
The group, Sexual Assault and Violence Education by Students, or SAVES, coordinated the march, which was lead by senior student Calvin Hall.
“I hope that everyone present would spread the word about violence in our community and that we remember those who have died, suffered or survived,” said Hall, a psychology and social work major.
According to Hall, the first “Take Back The Night” event started in Philadelphia after the rape and murder of a young microbiologist who was assaulted a block away from her home in 1975. There have been numerous “Take Back the Night’”events held at colleges, universities and shelters all over the world since then.
Hall said he hopes the evening’s “Take Back the Night” would spread awareness and be in honor and memory of past victims.
Robert Franklin, a psychologist and a coordinator for numerous sexual violence prevention events said in order to stop sexual violence and violence against women, we need to challenge the culture of rape that has afflicted the youth of our society.
“When a young high schooler says, ‘hate the player not the game,’ we should feel uneasy by those words,” Franklin said. “We need to affect the opinions and beliefs of our society.”