Students and faculty take back the night

Hannah Ray Lambert | Evergreen reporter

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“We have the power, we have the might,” the crowd of about 200 shouted, winding through College Hill. “The streets are ours. Take Back the Night.”

After a week of events aimed at promoting awareness of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, protestors took to the streets of Pullman last night for the 31st annual Take Back the Night rally.

Music could be heard across campus as the marchers gathered on the steps outside of Todd Hall. Coordinators provided free T-shirts for the first 100 people who arrived. Marchers could personalize the shirts, which read “I take back the night for…” followed by a line on which to write their answer. 

Morgan Brown, president of the Coalition for Women Students (CWS), began the event by inviting a series of speakers and a poet to the microphone, beginning with ASWSU Vice President LaKecia Farmer.

“We need everyone to be involved with this because we are all affected,” Farmer said, citing statistics from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an anti-sexual violence organization.

“One in three survivors will contemplate suicide,” she said. “Approximately 50 percent of survivors’ intimate partners will leave them (because of the assault).”

Farmer concluded her speech by saying, “We want a safe world and we want it now.”

A representative from Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, which had tables at the event, said the organization is there for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, whether they need medical or legal advocacy, or just someone to listen to their story.

Drew Smith, who has been involved with CWS for most of her time at WSU, said Take Back the Night means something different for her this year than it did in the past because she knows what she’s marching for.

Smith told the crowd that she was raped the Saturday after last year’s rally.

“My experience has taught me I’m a lot stronger than I thought …. By the grace of God, I am still here.”

Vice President of Coug MENtality, Robert Hopkins III, shouted, “We’re taking back the night y’all!” as he prepared to lead the crowd in a series of chants.

Two police cars escorted the crowd as it moved through campus to College Hill to make sure nothing happened to the marchers, Brown said.

Students in residence halls and Greek houses looked out at the crowd, with some of the members of Gamma Phi Beta leaning out of the front door and saying, “This is awesome.”

However, former WSU professor David Warner said he hasn’t seen improvement in the way society responds to sexual violence.

“I think we’re still waiting (for change),” Warner, who has marched for Take Back the Night 10 times, said. “We need to act.”

The rally ended between Streit/Perham Halls and Mooberry Track.

Many of those involved with the rally said they thought it was successful.

“There are a lot more people here (than last year) and a lot more diversity,” criminal justice Ph.D. student Amber Morczek said, adding that more men were involved with the rally this year.

Morczek said she hopes those who attended the rally leave knowing “there are people who won’t tolerate (violence).”

“We’ve had a really great week so far with the Week Without Violence,” Brianne Thompson, a sophomore international business major and YWCA senator, said. “I’ve gotten really positive responses from people wanting to know how to get involved.”