At 8pm this evening, the 23rd annual Take Back the Night rally will begin at the Barnard Gates. Participants will march through the streets of Morningside Heights and reconvene in LeFrak Gymnasium at 10pm for a Speakout. All are welcome join, but only women will lead the line. The Take Back the Night march demonstrates against sexual violence and raises awareness of its prevalence. These harrowing statistics emphasize why sexual assault demands special attention:

  • The United States has the highest rape ratio of any country that reports such statistics.
  • Almost 25% of college students have been victims of rape or attempted rape.
  • 90% of undergraduate college women who have been sexually assaulted knew the perpetrator.
  • 95.4% of rape offenders are male and 96% of survivors are female.
  • Approximately 17.8% of female high school students report being forced to engage in sexual activity against their will by a dating partner.
  • Fewer than 5% of these completed or attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement.

These issues affect your peers, and you probably know a victim. Last year the Spectator published a deeply unsettling op-ed on the failure of Columbia’s sexual assault policy to discipline a student who had raped the author twice. She called out University’s failure to treat such offenses with appropriate gravity or provide support for victims of sexual violence. Official procedures for addressing rape and other cases of sexual assault are now being seriously revisited and improved. Students truly have the ability to change the prevailing culture of silence about these injustices, and to make campus a safer, more equal space for women. But you have to speak up. See you tonight!

Check back for coverage of demonstration later tonight. You can also read Bwog’s coverage of the march from 2010 and 2009.

Columbia provides valuable resources for support:
Nightline, the Columbia-Barnard peer counseling hotline, will offer extended hours tonight (10pm-5am), and can be reached at 212-854-7777.
The University’s Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center: 212- 854-HELP

The Men’s Peer Education Program
Columbia’s Health Services
The University’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program (SVPRP)
Counseling and Psychological Services (Columbia): 212-854-2878
Rosemary Furman Counseling Center (Barnard): 212-854-2092

Office of the University Chaplain: 212-854-1493

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE

And one quick note: A little while back, we were stunned the display of solidarity in this comment thread. We hope people will continue to show support for the victims you most likely know.