Hundreds gathered at the heart of University of Oregon campus for the 38th anniversary of Take Back The Night last Thursday, April 28. Activists and survivors of sexual violence spoke onstage before the march through Eugene about their experiences with sexual assault and their efforts to educate and advocate for its end.
“I was crying for help … I was unprotected and lonely,” Selena Trevino, a student at the UO, said about a sexual assault incident. “What was a 4-year-old supposed to do?”
The national Take Back The Night organization has many resources available for survivors and those who wish to become advocates for ending sexual violence. Events like these are also a major support for survivors — locally and nationally.
The march was co-hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon Women’s Center, and Sexual Assault Support Services.
Eric Schucht, a student at UO, attended the march and was impressed by the turnout.
“There must be at least two or three hundred people — maybe four!” Schucht said. “I think that with every year it [the march] grows and more people will be aware of the problem. It’s a good means of support for survivors.”
UO student Wyatt Keuter said he was there to support sexual assault survivors.
“It will hopefully help bring some awareness to the prevalence of it in our community,” Keuter said. “I don’t think enough attention could be brought to this subject and this rally is a great way to bring our community together in the ongoing fight against it.”
Approximately one out of six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in five students have experienced an attempted rape according to a preliminary survey of 1,000 students at the UO. Ninety percent of students who are victimized do not report it to school officials.
Jackie Sandmeyer, a member of the Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team, went onstage to remind the attendees that sexual violence can happen to anyone.
“It’s funny that Title IX passed 30 years ago, and just now we got around to talk about safety,” Sandmeyer stated.“If you think this is a women’s issue or a gender issue, I’m sorry, but you are wrong.”
Title IX, passed in 1972, was designed to protect people from discrimination in education under any circumstances if the classes receive any federal funding, according to the Department of Education.
After the speaking portion of the rally, hundreds marched through campus and down West 11th to the Atrium Building in downtown Eugene where they gathered to hear more stories from survivors as the night went on.
Button Will, a student from Lane, spoke about the importance of remembering how this event at UO can still affect students at Lane.
“Sexual assault doesn’t just stop at the UO. Sexual assault is something that happens to a lot of us. It [the march] is a great education tool for anyone who wants to learn how to be more supportive of their peers dealing with such a thing.”