Take Back the Night is an annual campus event that provides a voice against local domestic violence and sexual assault. Taylor Grasdalen attended Thursday’s march and rally.
It would be entirely too easy to call Take Back the Night “moving,” or to call it by any related synonym, with as much stress as there has been this year on the terminology and language and circumstance surrounding issues of “gender-based misconduct and sexual assault.” Rather, I’ve never seen so much feeling; considering this event in the context of this word instead, this noun, seems to make far more sense than any descriptor. That there was feeling suggests a much greater thing.
And indeed, Take Back the Night really is about a greater thing, something big, something loud and important, a group rallying. This is exactly as it’s been for years’ events past, I know, but considering the modern energy of these issues makes that feeling stronger.
Take Back the Night began just before eight, with announcements and introductions. I was immediately regarded as “press” and could not speak to any other marcher or participant. Our key speaker–Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood (CC’14)–began the actual rally itself, by briefly discussing her own experiences and then for some time considering the University’s place in this cause. Her speech really clarified the purpose I’d hoped for this event: she gave more than just statistics, she gave thorough definition to “rape culture.” It’s any form of non-consent, anything without decision. She brought up Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion, where, too, students are not being heard. As she put it, “Rape culture is not some buzzword.” In a year of Town Halls and constant emails, administrators deflecting blame and students becoming restless, her concentration on language here felt incredibly timely.