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Canalside Chronicles

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Canalside Chronicles

A second chance
May 7, 2024

The Women of Brockport “Take Back the Night”

By: Portia Wojton

“I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know who he was. All I knew was that I had to get out of there.” 

Emma Smith (not real name), sexual assault survivor
Students of SUNY Brockport at the “Take Back the Night” rally

One in four women in the U.S. have experienced attempted or completed rape. One in three women in the U.S. have experienced sexual harassment. Over half of women in the U.S. have experienced sexual violence. 

“I don’t even remember what happened. It’s like little fragments of memories I have. I took Plan B the next morning because I didn’t know what happened,” Emma Smith said.

Despite countless laws, sexual violence against women persists. Women everywhere have decided it is time to take back the night.

In 1972, the women of the University of Southern Florida marched through campus demanding resources and support. In 1973, citizens of San Francisco marched through the city protesting vulgar pornography films that objectify women. In 1975, citizens of Philadelphia marched through the city after microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth was killed on a sidewalk after work. These rallies made a foundation for the creation of “Take Back the Night.”

“Take Back the Night” rally Boston, MA, 1979; Photo by Spencer Grant

The term “Take Back the Night” was created and publicized after the rally in Philadelphia. The “Take Back the Night” organization was founded by Katie Koestner in 2009. Since the founding of the organization, Koestner started a podcast series titled “Dear Katie”. The goal of the podcast is to raise awareness about sexual violence.

SUNY Brockport student holding a sign she made for the rally

“Take Back the Night” is a nonprofit organization that stands against sexual violence. Their goal is to unify people and host events in an attempt to end sexual violence. According to their website, “we welcome all who will walk, stand, speak, chant, and rally with us until sexual violence is no more.” 

On Oct. 19, SUNY Brockport hosted “Take Back the Night.” Students from all backgrounds came together to rally against sexual violence. Their voices rang loud and clear throughout the village of Brockport.

Students of Brockport chant during the “Take Back the Night” rally.

Many students who participated in the rally had personal reasons for doing so.

“Take Back the Night is important to me because, as a survivor of sexual assault, it feels nice to have a sense of support without having to be outwardly upfront about it,” said SUNY Brockport student Bella Markarian. “It’s very empowering. It’s encouraging to be surrounded by people who feel and share the same ideas as me.”

Signs created by students for the “Take Back the Night” rally

SUNY Brockport offers many resources to students on campus who need support. The Women’s Union is a safe space for women to come together and discuss issues.

The Brockport Women’s Union tabling at “Take Back the Night” From left to right: Marhkaela Bailey, Keegan Beamish, Bella Markarian, Fiona Gibiser

“Our mission is to educate and inform about empowerment, women’s issues and reproductive justice”, said President of the Brockport Women’s Union Keegan Beamish. “Everyone is welcome. It’s not solely a female group. We have men that come to our meetings and make up a good fraction of our roster.”

The Brockport Women’s Union stood with survivors at the “Take Back the Night” event. They were among many others who came to protest sexual violence.

Sexual violence is a major problem in America. Women will continue to rally together until they finally are able to “Take Back the Night.”

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