April 28, 2011

Students Oppose Sexual Abuse in Annual Take Back the Night Rally

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Cornell students gathered outside of Willard Straight Hall Thursday evening as part of Take Back the Night, an annual rally against sexual and domestic abuse.

The group of students marched through Collegetown and converged with other marchers on the Ithaca Commons.

“One beautiful thing about the Ithaca Take Back the Night is that people come from different venues to converge in one area we all share — the Commons — and show solidarity,” President David Skorton said during the rally.

Skorton spoke about the importance of recognizing violence against women as an ongoing problem.

“The fact that it’s still an issue means we need to recognize and say out loud that it’s unacceptable that domestic and sexual violence still occur,” Skorton said.

Take Back the Night has taken place in Tompkins County for 32 years as a community collaboration led by the Ithaca Advocacy Center. The Women’s Resource Center led the group of more than 90 Cornell community members to the Commons.

“This is a really loud and visible opportunity for the community to come together against violence and to support survivors, whether we know it or not, who are part of our community,” said Laura Weiss, director of the Women’s Resource Center.

Together through the streets of Collegetown, the marchers chanted, “We are women, we are men. Together we fight to take back the night.”

“Yes means yes, no means no; whatever we dress, wherever we go,” Lauren Schneider ’11 yelled during the rally.

Ending its march at the heart of the Commons, the group was greeted by about 200 other participants.

“We come together tonight so we can stand up, stand out and stand together,” said Ithaca Advocacy Center’s Director Patty Tvaroha.

The Advocacy Center functions as an umbrella organization that collaborates with community members and college students. Tvaroha described the event as a “grassroots effort that changes dependent on our group.”

“It’s really empowering actually to interact with so many people in the community,” said Ithaca College student Elizabeth Kranz grad, who has been part of the Take Back the Night Collective for the last three years. “Most students only come down for the restaurants and bars, but I feel more part of the community getting to work like this.”

Original Author: Katerina Athanasiou