Take Back the Night brings the community together

By Rachel Shepard & Rebecca OsowskiCopy Editor & Features Editor

Group photo of CJ303 and survivor speakers at Take Back the Night. Photo courtesy of Michael Woo

Take Back the Night is a student-run event executed by CJ303: Domestic Violence Advocacy, and overseen by Professor and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Karin Raye, which has become an annual event on campus. It took place in-person on November 19 in de Witt Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

The event was at capacity throughout the evening, according to Title IX intern and senior psychology major Mya Maxim. “It was so full to the point where people were standing outside the windows of de Witt listening to our survivors speak. Which is just such an amazing feeling,” Maxim said.

Students and alumni were featured as survivor speakers, including Haley Sherman, a Title IX intern and senior psychology and criminal justice major. 

“I think for me, as a speaker . . . if there’s one thing that someone should take away from my story at least is that [trauma] can happen to anyone,” said Sherman. “It’s not just some hidden little back door that people don’t know about. It’s like it’s public and it shouldn’t be a taboo topic.”

Multiple self care exercises were included throughout the event, as well as classrooms designated as confidential safe spaces with staff from REACH Beyond Domestic Violence for potential support. 

The open microphone portion of the event is open to the audience, and allows for community members to share their comments and experiences in a safe space. The microphone distribution was conducted by Raye and senior psychology major Angela Hayes.

Sherman said, “for Take Back the Night, we really focus on making it a safe space where everyone can share, and for the open microphone portion – it’s terrifying because you don’t know what’s going to happen. Because anyone can speak, anyone can share their story. It is nerve wracking as perpetrators can be in the room as well. But, this year, people shared important experiences and were totally respectful of the process.”

“Last night with the open microphone we had a couple of male survivors speak up which was very interesting to hear just because male survivors are often overlooked,” Maxim said. “I think that put another emphasis on that it can happen to anyone and it was really important too.”

The event closed with a cover of “Rise Up” by Emmy Jean-Louis (‘20).

Junior management and marketing major and the Student Government Association president, Michael Woo, said it’s ‘important’ to offer events like this for three reasons. 

“I think the first is that it gives an opportunity to survivors to share their experiences with other people,” Woo said. “Second, it helps other people who may not understand trauma, understand it better through what survivors are sharing. I think the third is that some people might come to the realization, ‘hey, that is actually me too’.”

Those seeking information about reporting domestic or sexual violence on campus can reach out to AVP for Legal Affairs & Title IX Coordinator Jennifer O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe offers the anonymous Title IX reporting form as a resource. The Lasell University support line is (833) 434-1217, and the counseling center offers confidential services for students over the age of 18 as well.

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