Take Back the Night empowers students to stand up against sexual and relationship violence

The annual event’s speakers included Chancellor Kent Syverud and Hendricks Chapel Dean Tiffany Steinwert, followed by a march around campus.

On a chilly Tuesday night in Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University students and administrators spoke out against sexual violence in the annual event Take Back the Night.

Two days before his inauguration, Chancellor Kent Syverud opened the event with words of support. He spoke of the benefits of creating a safe campus environment. “This is an urgent problem here and we cannot and should not ignore it,” he said. In his speech, Syverud encouraged the audience to work together for this goal. He left Hendricks Chapel after his speech.

Sarah Steele, a selected studies in education and psychology senior, spoke after the chancellor. She started volunteering at the Advocacy Center her freshman year at SU and helped organize Take Back the Night for the past two years.

Steele spoke about how everyone deserves dignity and respect, especially those who have had it taken away from them by sexual violence. As a woman, she said she has a special understanding of sexual abuse. Her own mother grew up in a violent household, so Steele said she was proud of her mother’s strength despite the challenges in her life.

She said that the event is about coming together in solidarity for any and all victims.

The keynote speaker was SU alum Marc Peters. He was involved in an organization called A Men’s Issue, a group that questioned gender roles and discussed feminism, during his undergraduate career here. Today, Peters works for an organization called MenEngage, which seeks to involve men in the advocacy of gender justice.

Peters attended Take Back the Night all four years at Syracuse University. He said he spoke at the event for the first time his senior year, telling the story of his father’s emotional abuse of his mother.

This year, he talked about what it is like to share those stories. “You never know what someone might walk away with,” Peters said.

He hopes that people might walk away with a better understanding of the “minor aggressions” they may commit every day. He added that it can also be beneficial to the speaker. “It can be very freeing,” Peters said. “Something that once owned you, you now have ownership of.”

The students who planned Take Back the Night then took the stage to explain why each one of them “stands with survivors.” Each person held a poster with a brief phrase explaining their motivation for organizing the event, such as “I stand with survivors because no one should go through this alone.”

Afterward, they said, “We stand with survivors because it’s the right thing to do” in unision.

Dr. Tiffany Steinwert, the dean of Hendricks Chapel, followed by speaking about the purpose of the event. “Tonight is the night we let our voices be heard,” she said. “We are going to take back the night. We are going to take back our campus. We are going to take back ourselves.”

Steinwert led the chant “Syracuse unite, take back the night” while attendees prepared to march around the campus. As hordes of students took to the streets for a walk that led from Hendricks Chapel to Marshall Street and back into the chapel, they yelled various chants, including “Hey ho, hey ho, sexual abuse has got to go” and “Syr-a-cuse, no more abuse.”

Bystanders watched as the large crowd passed, and many took photographs of the demonstration.

The event concluded back in the chapel with a “speak out” portion where people came up and shared their personal experiences with sexual or relationship violence. The organizers handed out snacks and information on resources for victims. The speak out was closed to the media.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.