Silhouettes silent for violent assaults
The University of Idaho Women’s Center will host Take Back the Night Thursday to inform students about sexual assaults and what they can do to help.
The event is an opportunity for the Women’s Center and other groups on campus to speak with students about the dangers of sexual assaults. The event will start at 8 p.m. in the Agricultural Science Building, room 106. The event is slated to take about two hours.
“This event is a part of a much wider campus initiative to really inform students, educate students and make sure that they’re aware of their resources on our campus,” said Lysa Salsbury, program coordinator for the Women’s Center.
Salsbury said it is important to have this event early in the fall, and if it was plausible she would have it earlier.
“We understand that the first few weeks of a new semester, at the beginning of the academic year, are always the most critical in terms of intervention for avoiding the potential for sexual assault on our campus,” Salsbury said.
The attendance of Take Back the Night is always high, but that’s not going to stop them from trying to encourage more students to come, Salsbury said. The first 100 students to arrive at the event will receive a free Take Back the Night T-shirt.
Einstein Bros. Bagels is offering a free bagel party to the student group that brings the highest number of participants to the event.
After everyone has arrived, Salsbury will give a welcome to all attendees and give a brief history of Take Back the Night.
The welcome will be followed by guest speaker Mia Vowels, deputy prosecutor for Latah County and alumna of the University of Idaho.
The group will then head outdoors and meet in the courtyard outside of the Agricultural Science Building.
Participants will be given glow sticks, and they will start marching around campus. The march will start toward Memorial Gym, turning east down University Avenue, then toward Elm Street. Then they will turn down Greek Row, crossing Sixth Street, looping around the Living and Learning Community and finally returning around the Agricultural Science Building.
During that walk, participants will see silhouettes of people along the way with messages on them. These structures have been on the UI campus since Sept. 19. The figures have made their way to campus in large part because of the efforts of UI VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood.
Erika Newman, President of UI VOX, said that the idea of making the silhouettes, entitled Silent Witnesses, was given to them by Jennifer Whitney, Community Organizer for Planned Parenthood. It was then their job to find a way to make it happen in three weeks.
They were able to make it happen because UI Facilities donated the wood and Inland Oasis donated the paint. Forty stories were selected to put on the silhouettes which will be changed throughout the of the week.
“Part of it is getting awareness out about Take Back the Night,” Newman said. “The big part of it is telling these victims stories.”
The stories are about people from Idaho who were victims of domestic abuse.
“We’re telling the story of someone whose not here to tell it themselves,” Newman said.
According to Emily Rankin, vice-president of UI VOX, events like Take Back the Night are important because college students may not realize the seriousness of the situation.
“Especially as college students, domestic abuse and things like this —we don’t think about it, we don’t think that that can happen to us, so it’s really important to increase awareness and for everyone to acknowledge that it is a really big problem,” Rankin said.
Salsbury said this is especially important because sexual assault doesn’t only happen to women — men are sexually assaulted as well.
Participants at the rally will have an opportunity to further their awareness that night after returning from the march as they return to cookies and hot chocolate. Anyone wishing to stay will listen to survivors of sexual assaults share their experiences.
According to Salsbury, there is usually a smaller group for this part of the night — between 30 to 40 people. A trained advocate will facilitate the event.
To conclude the event this year, student Toluwani Adekunle will read a poem.
“The purpose of the event is to make people aware of the statistics on our campus and also to create a unified voice to denounce that on our campus — to say that that’s not okay, we’re going to take a stand against that, we are going to show our visible support of individuals who are survivors of incidents of sexual assault,” Salsbury said.
Jake Dyer can be reached at email@example.com