By Erin Hannon
Last Thursday night, HEAT sponsored an annual Take Back the Night event that began on the back quad. The event included speeches, a candlelight vigil, a procession, and a bonfire. Take Back the Night is an international movement that focuses on spreading awareness about sexual assault and helping to support victims.
The evening began as students gathered in front of the outdoor stage as members of HEAT handed out signs and posters. The signs had phrases such as “End Rape Culture”, “Consent is Sexy”, and “Stop the Violence, Shatter the Silence ”, however, participants were also invited to create their own posters with statements of support.
Laura Lee Wight, the president of HEAT, opened the event with a few brief words and then introduced the night’s speakers.
Rev. Christopher Bowen the college’s chaplain was the first to speak. His speech encouraged everyone to show support for victims of sexual assault and he shared a prayer and a moment of silence for all victims.
Roanoke’s Director of Athletics, Scott Allison, also spoke. Allison shared how Roanoke’s Athletic department will join countless other colleges across the country in participating on the It’s On Us campaign. The campaign’s focus is to increase bystander intervention in order to help eliminate sexual assault on college campuses.
Following those eloquent speeches, members of HEAT stood up and each gave the reasons why they were helping to “take back the night”. Their reasons included personal stories as well as startling statistics. One of the most affecting was “one in five women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate.”
After that moving display, the members of HEAT distributed candles to all of the participants and the procession around campus began. The group walked the perimeter of the campus, past the Colket Center, Fintel Library, and then up through the college’s main entrance, carrying the posters and candles as a sign of solidarity for all victims of sexual assault.
After circling back to the back quad, the participants were then invited down to Sutton Terrace for the next segment of the evening. After that, there were cookies and hot chocolate and a discussion about sexual assault on college campuses.
For more information about the Take Back the Night Movement, go to: takebackthenight.org/about-tbtn/.