Our Own ‘Take Back the Night’

Jess Myers is Director of UMBC’s Women’s Center.

Jess MyersIt might have been getting stuck in traffic on I-695 for far too long. Or having no idea where our group was going once we got to Towson University. But, what I really think convinced us was the sense of empowerment and healing that filled the bus on our journey back to UMBC. Mickey Arora and I looked at each other with confidence and excitement, both agreeing that we could totally make Take Back the Night (TBTN) happen at UMBC the following year.

UMBC partners working together to bring Take Back the Night to campus. L to R: Mickey Arora, University Health Services Health Education Coordinator; Jess Myers, Women’s Center Director; Susan DuMont, Office of Student Life Coordinator for Fraternities & Sororities. All are members of the Women’s Center Advisory Board.

Mickey Arora, University Health Services Health Education Coordinator; Jess Myers, Women’s Center Director; and Susan DuMont, Office of Student Life Coordinator for Fraternities & Sororities. All are members of the Women’s Center Advisory Board.

When we got back to campus and shared the idea with the Women’s Center Advisory Board, member Susan DuMont jumped in, saying she had helped organize TBTN as an undergrad. Then Lexx Mills joined the Women’s Center staff as an Honors College intern who was fired up to write a BreakingGround grant proposal for TBTN. From that point on, there was no turning back.

Take Back the Night is an internationally recognized protest and rally to address sexual assault and abuse. Most often held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, TBTN creates an atmosphere of empowerment while raising awareness about sexual violence and advocating for its end.

UMBC’s TBTN 2013 (cosponsored by the Women’s Center and University Health Services, with support from campus partners and a BreakingGround grant) will be both a part of this international movement and uniquely our own. With initiatives like Green Dot, Rebuilding Manhood, and BreakingGround, our campus is seeding efforts to challenge the status-quo and be social change leaders. With a Greek Life community engaging in bystander intervention, our WILL sisters bursting with activism, the Peer Health Educators poised to educate, and the Women’s Center community grounded in a feminist philosophy, we have co-created a community of diverse members ready to learn important lessons about each other and to stand up together to say enough is enough.

UMBC’s Take Back the Night program will take place Tuesday, April 30th on the Quad. Events will include a community resource fair and the Clothesline Project at 6:30 p.m.; Speak Out – an open forum for survivors of sexual assault and allies to share their stories or the stories of loved ones – at 7:00 p.m.; a march (around campus) against sexual violence at 8:00 p.m.; and a solidarity performance featuring student-musician Christina Animashaun and others at 8:30 p.m. All students, faculty, and staff of the UMBC community are invited to attend.

Leaving campus to participate in TBTN just doesn’t make sense anymore. It sends a message that sexual violence does not happen on our campus or that we do not care about our own survivors of sexual assault, which is absolutely not true. This is our chance to take back our own campus, give love to our community members impacted by sexual violence, and commit to being better bystanders and activists. Stay tuned for more details about how you can get involved and plan on joining us Tuesday, April 30th. For more information about TBTN and other Sexual Assault Awareness Month programs, contact the Women’s Center at 410-455-2714 or womens.center@umbc.edu.

Contact the author, Jess Myers, at jessm@umbc.edu.

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