On Thursday October 29th Bucknell students, faculty and staff gathered for the annual event, “Take Back The Night.” Danielle Taylor and Jack Ebby began the evening by saying, “Tonight is the moment when each one of us takes personal responsibility for ending sexual assault and dating violence on this campus… We are here tonight to stand not only in solidarity, but also in strength. We stand to make a statement that as a community we will not tolerate or excuse the behavior of those who would harm the members of our community.”
Speakers shared both personal stories and published pieces in order to illustrate the issues our campus faces. Amarachi Ekekwe used spoken word to show how the racism and sexism that exist at Bucknell and in the world prevent her and others from experiencing the respect and safety all people deserve. She then related these networks of oppression to the unhealthy sexual attitudes propagated by dominant culture. Christine Cremonni spoke about the stigmatization that the LGBTQ community faces, which makes access to justice and healing even more difficult for LGBTQ survivors. Further, because the majority of conversations about sexual assault revolve around male perpetration and female victimization, any experience that deviates from this narrative is routinely invalidated and ignored.
Polly Englot explained the need for providing survivors with unconditional support, and emphasized the necessity of not creating or contributing to the self-blame a survivor may experience. All of the speakers encouraged the audience to hold themselves personally accountable for making a difference. As Anthony Marcozzi stated, “We cannot continue to stand by while our peers violate each other’s basic right to dignity and respect. It’s time we rise to the occasion, and demand better of ourselves and better of each other.” Sociology professor Karen Altendorf and President Bravman also spoke at the event, demonstrating that members of Bucknell’s staff truly care about Bucknellians and are powerful allies in this cause.
In what was perhaps the most moving portion of the evening, Alexa Gorski shared her experience with dating violence. She wanted to share her story to remind survivors they are not alone, and to encourage others to make our campus a more kind and accepting place.
During the march, hundreds of students followed Speak Up leaders, silently walking the streets of downtown Lewisburg to symbolize the reclamation of our campus and the surrounding area as a safe space.
“Take Back the Night” reminds us that we all have an ongoing duty to make a difference on this campus. As Lindsey Ruff said, “If we are passive in the face of injustice, we are part of the reason it exists.” Matt Lipper declared, “Overcoming oppression is more than awareness; it’s about action.” The pair concluded by saying, “Dedication to this cause is far from simple; it requires bravery, and it demands compassion. Thank you so much for being part of it.”
*If you or someone you know needs access to counseling, medical, academic, or legal resources following a sexual assault, call the Advocates. The Advocates are confidential and are on call 24/7 at (570) 850-6115.