April 29, 2010

Marchers Spread Sexual Violence Awareness

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A boisterous group of students gathered in front of Willard Straight Hall Thursday, eventually marching down to the Commons and holding a candle lighting ceremony to honor Take Back the Night. The march is an annual march against sexual and domestic violence.  This year, the event took on a greater level of importance, as the Ithaca Take Back the Night was selected by the National Take Back the Night Foundation as one of the nation’s “Ten Points of Light” –– an initiative that is meant to show solidarity for the cause by coordinating protests, marches and candle lighting ceremonies at ten locations across the country  at the same time.President David Skorton visited the group prior to the march to commend their continued commitment to the cause. “When you’re lighting candles on the Commons tonight, think about how proud the community is that this organization has been named one of the Ten Points of Light,” Skorton said.Once he finished, the student activists began warming up their voices with such chants as “Yes means YES! NO means NO! Whatever we wear, wherever we go!” and “People unite, take back the night!” Many protesters wore armbands — blue for supporters, purple for victims of sexual or domestic violence and orange for support staff. Shortly after, a small brigade of advocates began the march from Ho Plaza at 7 p.m. down to the Commons where a candle lighting ceremony took place. The march was organized by several student groups from the University and Ithaca College, as well as other local businesses and advocacy groups. Ithaca’s “Take Back the Night” is sponsored by the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, which has been on campus since 1970 and has helped organize Take Back the Night for 31 years.“This is the 31st year, so there is a really strong history,” Laura Weiss, the director of the Women’s Resource Center, said. “Being part of this year’s 10 Points of Light reinforces the importance of this movement and galvanizes support to end the violence in Ithaca. “The Cornell Women’s Resource Center also provides a channel for discourse and political activism for those passionate about women’s rights.“I self-identify as a feminist. It was also a legacy thing; my sister also worked for the Women’s Resource Center,” Jaime Churchill ’10 said.One out of every 33 men, and one in six women will be raped during his or her lifetime, according to the brochures passed around by some advocates. It added that one in five teens who have dated report having been physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. “I think its really nice to have a signature event to raise awareness of this issue, because once you hear about it, you start to realize how prominent it is,” Emma Schain ’11 said.

Original Author: Joey Anderson