UCSD ‘takes back the night’

    UCSD students and faculty gathered in Price Center Plaza on the evening of April 15 to participate in “Take Back the Night.” Sponsored by A.S. Women’s Commission, the event centered on the issues of rape, violence and sexual assault against women.

    Throughout the rally, a bell rang every two minutes to symbolize the statistic that a woman is raped every two minutes.

    Shortly after the commencement of the program with a musical performance by Katie Strand, current A.S. Vice President Internal and A.S. President-Elect Jenn Pae read various statistics for the audience to consider.

    One in five women report that they have been raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and every 21 hours, there is a rape on a college campus, Pae said.

    “Reading it and listening to it, it doesn’t really hit,” Pae said. “A lot of the time, people don’t talk about it and it’s something quiet, hidden away and blamed on one person. In actuality, it’s not just one person’s issue, but affects the entire community.”

    Pae expressed her aggravation over the statistics, but also had a hopeful message about recovery and the future.

    “It’s really frustrating knowing that I’m only one person and I can only do so much, but it’s really comforting to know that there are so many people out there that can help, there for support and encouragement,” she said. “It’s also nice to be part of this UCSD community knowing that we are all here in that fight to imagine a world without violence.”

    Following Pae’s introduction, an anonymous poetry reading took place, followed by a speech by Myclie Chavez of the Rape Crisis Center.

    Chavez opened her remarks by acknowledging and speaking directly to the men in attendance.

    “You have the power in your hands to impact other men,” Chavez said. “I challenge you all to really change, when men are objectifying women, when men are saying comments about her ass, or her tits, challenge them and stop — make it stop because every comment that is made not only perpetuates violence against women, but it makes it OK.”

    According to Chavez, one in four women are sexually assaulted, while one in eight men are sexually assaulted.

    “We have the power in our hands to affect change. That’s why we are here tonight,” Chavez said. “Rape does not discriminate … What is rape? It’s the dehumanization of a human being.”

    After Chavez’s remarks, musical guest Saba gave a vocal performance of various songs related to the night’s topics.

    American Civil Liberties Union board member and UCSD political science lecturer M.E. Stephens subsequently spoke about gender equality and the elimination of sexual assault from society.

    According to Stephens, the United States has the highest sex assault rate of all developed countries, outpacing Japan by 20 percent.

    “Given all of the privilege in this country, that disrespect for humankind is unacceptable,” Stephens said. “Don’t any of you accept that for yourselves. You are here tonight because you reject that notion, because you respect yourselves and each other.”

    Stephens also stressed the necessity of gender equality.

    “What I care about is the idea that tonight forward you will live with the notion that it is never without your consent,” Stephens said. “And here’s what we don’t consent to: We don’t consent to the fact that we have never had a woman president.”

    According to Stephens, 25 percent of California legislators are women and a woman earns only 75 cents on every dollar a man makes.

    “I do not consent to that quarter that somebody fucking stole from me,” Stephens said. “It’s not acceptable to me that there has never been a woman governor in the state of California. I do not consent to having my money taken or having my children beaten or sexually assaulted. So tonight, each and every one of you have to withdraw your consent to inferiority.”

    Stephens closed her speech by emphasizing the need for everyone to actively participate in changing society.

    “Don’t walk away tonight with a big warm fuzzy and do nothing. Don’t listen to some cool music, link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya,’ because that’s not going to make you the governor of California,” she said.

    Following Stephens were open-mic testimonials in which students shared their personal experiences with audience members. The night’s event closed with a campuswide candlelight march.

    “Take Back the Night” was founded in 1976 in Belgium, when women at an international conference marched to protest the ways in which sexual violence permeates the lives of women around the world. The first “Take Back the Night” in the United States was held in San Francisco in 1978. This is the third time the A.S. Women’s Commission has hosted the event at UCSD.

    According to Women’s Commission member Meredith Knell, the event went well, and she estimated that it attracted over 300 attendees.

    “We are amazingly satisfied with [the turnout],” Knell said. “The LGBT and sorority turnouts were fantastic.”

    Monies collected from the event will be donated to Becky’s House, a set of townhouses managed by YWCA of San Diego. Services offered include counseling, case management, tutoring and support groups. The house’s goal is to reestablish victims of domestic violence in a new permanent residence within 18 months. Due to a high demand for the service, YWCA is raising funds to build Becky’s House 2, which will be constructed this fall.

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