Students gather to take back the night
On Thursday October 12, PAWS held their third annual Take Back the Night walk to advocate for survivors of sexual violence. About 100 students joined Peers Advocating for the Wellness of Students (PAWS) in their walk around campus at nightfall to signify that woman, or anyone for that matter, should not have to live in fear. PAWS provided glow sticks and a police detail in order to light the walk, really signifying the message that together we can overcome violence and the fear it bestows upon us.
PAWS is a well known club on campus that holds meetings and community events to advocate for the overall wellness of students. “This is my favorite event throughout the year,” said Brenna Burke, Assumption College senior. “It gets so many different groups on campus to come together for an important issue.”
The event began with a speech from Conway Campbell, Dean of Campus Life. Campbell read an excerpt from the bible, the Good Samaritan, reminding students how important it is to be a good neighbor. “A neighbor is more than just somebody who lives in close proximity,” he reminded students. “As a good neighbor, we go out of our way to ensure their needs are taken care of.”
The walk contained nine stops around campus, each of which included a small activity relating all of the ways sexual violence is present in our society. Different clubs on campus hosted the stops; SGA members read poetry regarding pain and forgiveness, the Co-ed Acapella club, Hound Sound, performed “Titanium” by Sia, AC Allies read statistics regarding sexual abuse in the LGBTQIA+ community, and the social justice club read survivor stories aloud. The walk was full of powerful moral from all who joined.
“What do we want? Safe campuses! When do we want them? Now!” Each walk participant chanted loudly and proudly throughout the entire event.
A twin size mattress was carried by members for the entire duration of the walk to symbolize the emotional weight that victims of sexual abuse carry around at all times. Allison Carr, the relationship advocate for PAWS, was inspired with the idea of the mattress carry when she heard the survivor story regarding Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz.
Emma Sulkowicz was sexually assaulted on her campus and felt Columbia University did nothing about the issue. She felt so strongly that her message, and the message from every other survivor, needed to be heard. Society must stop sweeping sexual assaults under the rug. In order to advocate for herself and her peers, Sulkowicz carried her mattress across the stage the day she graduated from Columbia University. To stand with her in solidarity, Assumption students participated in their own mattress carry.
“The purpose is to gather as a community, to walk forward, even with the emotional weight we may bare,” said Carr. “This is not something we stand for. This is something we march for.”
Jean Straccia, a senior, studies chemistry and English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.