UNI to take back the night

SYDNEY HAUER, Executive Editor | [email protected]

The UNI Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Northern Iowa Feminists will host the annual Take Back the Night event today, starting at 7 p.m. on the Maucker Union rooftop.

According to their website, the Take Back the Night Foundation was established in the 1960’s with a mission to “end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.”

Take Back the Night events have occurred in over 800 different communities and 36 countries.

“If [students] attend, they can expect there to be speakers talking about campus sexual assault,” said Finn Blaho, programming graduate assistant for the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Blaho is in charge of the event.

They said the event does not have to address campus sexual assault specifically, but an event on a college campus is a good place to discuss that type of assault.

Blaho explained that there will be three speakers between 7 and 8 p.m., including Kaylee Michaelson, the Riverview Center advocate, in addition to a sexual assault survivor. After the speakers are finished, the UNI Women’s Chorus will be performing two selections.

“Their director, Amy Kotsonis, reached out to me and said that some of her students in the women’s choir wanted to do something about all of the sexual assault emails that they were receiving on campus because last semester there was just a slew,” Blaho said. “Weekend after weekend there was another email about campus sexual assault, and a lot of the students in that choir felt kind of helpless about what they could do.”

One of the works the chorus will be performing is titled “Truth” by Andrea Ramsey. Kotsonis explained that the piece discusses the ease and simplicity of childhood, and how once you enter adolescence, self-consciousness arises and bullying and concern with body image are ever-present.

“The high point is, ‘you are beautiful; you are enough,’” Kotsonis said. “Some people need to hear that.”

After the chorus’ performance, attendees will march from the Maucker Union to College Hill, down and around the Hill and back up to the Union.

“There’ll be some chanting as well, to shout into the night that people shouldn’t have to fear being outside at night, or on a college campus, or anywhere really,” Blaho said.

Blaho noted that those who can’t make the first portion of the event are more than welcome to come at 8 p.m. for the march.

Kotsonis said she sees a lot of importance in talking about this issue more and more.

“I feel like for a long time — I know that when I was in college — it wasn’t really addressed,” Kotsonis said. “You just didn’t talk about it, and most people didn’t report it, but you knew it was happening.”

“Campus sexual assault is clearly something that isn’t being addressed enough on our campuses,” Blaho said. “There is always more to be done about it, because even if we have these events every year and the police get training on this, there is still campus sexual assault. It is a problem we can’t solve. At least if people come to the event and they understand the gravity [of] just how big the issue is, that is one more person who understands how important this issue is to solve. It shouldn’t be our job to feel like we need to be vigilant about our safety while walking around at night. That’s not getting to the root of the problem.”