In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Linfield’s Health, Wellness and Counseling Center held its first Take Back the Night rally to break the silence and provide opportunities to speak out about sexual assault. Students, faculty and community members gathered in front of Walker Hall at 6:30 p.m. on April 30, followed by a march around campus.
As people filtered in, they received biodegradable balloons and a marker to write messages of hope, empowerment or pain to be released after the march.
Adria Godon-Bynum, coordinator for student health and wellness, began with a speech about the purpose of Take Back the Night and the importance of speaking up about the safety of everyone in the community.
“Women have the right to live without fear and should be able to move about the community day or night,” she said.
The sound of her voice in the microphone, echoing off nearby buildings attracted many people who hadn’t
previously been aware of the event. Students walking out of Dillin Hall made their way to the courtyard to see what was happening.
Godon-Bynum opened the stage for those sharing poems, excerpts, short stories or monologues about sexual assault, equality and women’s rights.
A few members of the Writing through Trauma group agreed to have their creative testimonials read aloud by Dawn Williamson, a counselor at Linfield.
Junior Brea Ribeiro read a piece by Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, about rape culture.
“Rape culture is a context where sexual violence against women is reproduced and normalized in our media and popular culture by the objectification of women’s bodies, female devaluation language and glamorizing sexual violence,” Ribeiro said in an email. “Our rape culture disempowers females while also disregarding women’s rights and safety. Eve Ensler’s ‘Over It’ poem adequately puts into words my own frustration of our rape culture, which is ultimately the reason why I read it, because I am over it.”
Participants were given a piece of paper with chants to recite during the march. Godon-Bynum pumped up the crowd by reciting these chants.
“As the march went on, it seemed like people began to really feel what it is like to be an activist, which is hard to do on a college campus, especially one this small,” sophomore Sofia Webster said in an email.
After the march, participants released their balloons and then held a somber moment of silence for victims of sexual assault and violence.
“Beginning the planning earlier and getting the word out earlier would definitely benefit the event,” Webster said. “With the time given from the moment Adria arrived, she did an absolutely amazing job with such little time. It was truly impressive.”
Kesley Sutton/Managing editor
Kelsey Sutton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.