Sexual assault on campus is a topic that is widely discussed, and Take Back the Night, a rally focusing on bringing awareness to sexual assault on campus and in communities, brought that discussion to Texas State University.
The event, which took place on April 13, was put on by the Texas State Student Health Center. It included a rally, a march through campus and an opportunity for students to speak in a safe zone about their experiences with sexual assault.
Katie Quinton, a sophomore, attended the event because she was interested to see what was happening, she said.
“I think that what also people have problems with, is that they focus on a certain part of the spectrum versus the whole thing. I think inclusion in issues is very important,” Quinton said. “I don’t know where they’re going to go with this but I hope they don’t un-include people because a lot of people don’t know that people who are male face sexual assault as often as females do.”
Students gathered around the statue of the Vaquero outside of Old Main, where they were given phrases to chant as they marched to the LBJ theatre.
“Stop the violence, end the silence. No more violence, no more hate. Hey, ho, patriarchy’s got to go,” they chanted.
Will Jordan, a senior, was present for the spoken word portion of the rally where students were invited to sign up to speak about their experiences.
Before the students were asked to come and speak, there were appearances by Gilda Garcia, the chief diversity officer and director of equity and access, Bernie Ramsey and Bethany Evans from the Counseling Center, and representatives from Men Against Violence, Bobcats Leaving out Violence (BLOV), and the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center.
“I wanted to get more information on how to prevent violence, in all cases,” Jordan said. “For the ones that come, I think it allows them to see that they’re not the only ones who think about those kinds of issues. Some people may have had an experience before and didn’t realize how many other people cared about the same thing.”
Ebony Stewart, the host of the event, is also a sexual health educator, spoken word artist and the only adult female three-time Slam Champion in Austin, Texas.
“My hope is that events like this will allow students to speak out and be more honest about the issue. To not shrink or hide from it but to call it out and hopefully get rid of rape culture as a whole,” Stewart said. “I believe if we actually start talking about sex, sexual health, and owning the rights to our bodies then we can eliminate the shame sexual assault and rape causes.”
Stewart encouraged students to come into the space open-minded and ready to support one another in order to create a welcoming, respectful atmosphere.
Stewart said she hopes her work will impact students on campus and in their communities.
“If people actually start speaking out against sexual assault and rape and fully support and protect each other from perpetrators, then universities will have safer campuses,” Stewart said.