MC Takes Back the Night

Manhattan College’s first annual Take Back the Night march and vigil “honoring those who have survived sexual assault and working to combat sexual violence on and off college campuses,” took place April 21 on the steps of the Smith Auditorium.

Even though a sober topic, the sun was shining and the Quad was filled with students, RAs and faculty members.

In charge of organizing the event were Jessica Risolo, Arbnore Misini and Olivia Blasi as well as their group advisor, Roksana Badruddoja.

After Take Back the Night activist Katie Koestner’s visit and lecture at MC last semester, “we saw a problem that needed to be addressed on campus but it was kind of a taboo,” Blasi said.

This is why a group of students got together to organize Take Back The Night MC, to “not only raise awareness but also provide support to the victims and prevent it,” Blasi said. “We are just hoping to educate, I know we are a small campus, but we can’t ignore it. It [sexual violation] happens.”

Badruddoja, Ph.D. and assistant professor of sociology, welcomed everyone with a powerful statement.

“We must shatter the silence,” she said. “We must end the violence.”

She discussed her frustration with the vandalizing of Take Back the Night’s event flyers. According to Badruddoja, some of the flyers were drawn on so that the phrase “no means no” was changed into “no means yes.”

She pointed out the purpose of the event was to “make everyone feel safe, respected, heard” and amongst all, it was “a way to start a conversation” on campus.

Jennifer Edwards, Ph.D. and associate professor of history, is also involved in women and gender studies and spoke at the event.

“I am an angry feminist,” Edwards said. “Twenty million women a year are assaulted in the USA, and 38 percent of the rapists are friends. In college, nine out of 10 rapists are friends, 95 percent are never reported and 98 percent don’t ever get charged.”

She said that oftentimes, it is “hard for victims to pursue justice” because “media condemns them. We should be angry.”

The last speaker was Kimberly Fairchild, Ph.D. and associate professor of psychology, who conducted research on street harassment and catcalling.

Since there was nothing in research literature, she thought it was a good topic to investigate on her own.

“Eighty-five percent of women before 17 years old have suffered from street harassment,” Fairchild said, and the negative effect of it is that “fully intelligent human beings begin to see themselves as a body” and ultimately feel discouraged to enjoy public life. Whistles and stares are part of small daily assaults we need to fight.”