by, Kelly Kennedy & Nicole Fitzsimmons, Asst. Social Media Editor & News Editor
On Monday April 12, The Lasallian Women and Gender Research Center held their annual Take Back the Night event. This event is usually held every year but had to be put on hold when the pandemic hit last March, and MC is grateful to have this opportunity to host it once again.
Take Back the Night opens up a safe space to hold discussion about sexual assault and offers survivors a safe space. It was held both in-person in Kelly Commons and virtually so all students were able to attend.
Christina Trichilo is a junior at Manhattan College who is co-committee leader of Take Back the Night.
“Take Back the Night is important because it allows for student who have been affected by sexual violence to have a safe space on our campus,” Trichilo wrote in a message to The Quadrangle. “It also lets these students know they are not alone. Take Back the Night is a Safe and Brave Space, which was created by Dr. Roksana Badurdoja. This allows us to foster a safe space for survivors filled with support. Under Title IX, those at Take Back the Night are not mandated reporters, so students may freely discuss their stories without worry.”
The event kicked off with an introduction and then four student performances. Students Timothee Razakamiadana, Regina Ricardo, Leicy Oritz-Jupiter and Diane Yomkil performed songs and poetry to start the night.
Junior Gabrielle Panassol was performance overseer for Take Back the Night. Panassol mainly contacted performers and organized that part of the event. After putting in so much work she found this was her favorite part of the night.
“The event was beautiful,” Panassol wrote. “I went remotely but I heard the performers sing and read such beautiful songs/poems about being so much more than the abuse they suffered and it was just overall so beautiful. My favorite part was one of our performers, alumni Leicy Ortiz-Jupiter and her poetry, it was absolutely beautiful.”
After the performances, discussion was led by guest speaker Rachel McKibbens. McKibbens is an American poet originally from California and joined Take Back the Night virtually. She shared her story and read a few of her poems.
“I’m extremely happy to be here,” McKibbens said. “I love hearing all of your voices, I love that you are out here, just really, truly leaning into your joy and solidarity with each other.”
She read from a few of her poems which students found very moving. These poems detail her experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
“Some of us were born in bodies that are truly valued in this country,” she read. “Some of us are born in bodies that are often hunted, made invisible, defy all social norms, bodies that are considered inconvenient. Some of us reside
in bodies that get followed that get left behind. Some of us reside in bodies that have been used against us, or bodies that are expected to sign up for war when they turn 18. Some of us reside in bodies that are expected to commit crimes that happen. Laws written against them, that can get away with murder, that are punch lines that are not meant to last. We often reside in bodies that rarely feel like they even belong to us at times.”
Students really appreciated McKibbens coming to speak, Trichilo details it as her favorite part of the night.
Trichilo says, “My favorite part was listening to Rachel McKibbens. She performed a few poems which were all so beautifully written and had such a powerful impact on me and others at the event as well.”
After McKibbens’ talk, grARTitude was hosted by senior Ireland Twiggs following a quick intermission. GrARTitude opens a creative space for students to begin with gratitude and creatively tackle their experiences. Twiggs gave students
two prompts and students used this to create personal art.
Soon after was an art display. Take Back the Night opened up for art submissions from students to be displayed at the event. The Lasallian Women and Gender Research Center has always been known for displaying students’ artwork in their office, and this opens up for students to express themselves and showcase their work. This part of the night was hosted by Renee Duran and senior Micaela Beatty. Artwork was displayed on a powerpoint featuring paintings, drawings and poems.
After the main events, a candlelight vigil was led by Christina Trichilo and Julia Etteree. This candlelight vigil is usually held on the Quad but this year was adjusted to include remote students. The night ended with a moment of silence to show respect for all those affected by sexual violence, closing a very powerful and moving night.