ASAP, Green Dot host Take Back the Night in support of survivors

ASAP members hold candles to show their support for survivors of sexual assault during their event 'Take Back the Night' on Tisch Library roof on Nov. 5. Mengqi Irina Wang / The Tufts Daily

Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault.

Tufts student groups Action for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) and Green Dot, as well as the Tufts Center for Awareness, Resources, and Education (CARE), hosted “Take Back the Night” yesterday, a community walk and speak out, in hopes of showing support for those impacted by sexual violence.

The event was organized both to show support for survivors and to raise awareness in the Tufts community about the many types of resources available to students on campus. Although the event was centered around themes of sexual assault, all speakers made sure to omit any specific descriptions of sexual violence in order to foster a comfortable and safe environment.

Hundreds of students met on the residential quad in front of Houston Hall at 8 p.m. Green glow sticks and candles were passed through the crowd in excitement as more peers joined in support.

“I think this is a really important cause, and it’s something that can be overlooked in our daily lives. Many people aren’t aware of how sexual assault exists on our campus, and some may not know that even their friends can be survivors. So, I think this is a great way to show support [for those affected],” Amelia Miller, a first-year who attended the event, said.

The bustling crowd made its way across the academic quad to the rooftop of the Tisch Library. Students were encouraged to stand wherever they felt comfortable and to pass around more and more candles. At the back of the rooftop, there was a water cooler available to anyone who needed to take a moment to step out of the crowd.

Members of the ASAP executive board opened the event by sharing the event’s goal and the organizations’ overall mission on campus to support survivors of all experiences and identities.

“Take Back the Night started as a women’s protest in the 1970s [led by] cisgender, white women. Tonight, we are reimagining this event to … provide a space for people of color, gender minorities, queer folks and sex workers who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence,” one of the members of ASAP said.

Small sheets of paper titled “Take Back the Night Community Call to Action” were passed around to everyone, containing information on Tufts affiliated and non-Tufts affiliated resources for sexual assault, on and off campus.

By the water cooler at the back of the crowd, there was also a table covered in pens, pins with phrases like “Consent is Mandatory” printed on them, more candles, glow sticks and additional information.

There was a pile of fliers containing in-depth descriptions of time-sensitive steps to take as a survivor such as going to the hospital and undergoing the evidence collection process. There was another pile of instructions for first responders on how to provide a safe space for survivors.

The members of ASAP also informed students about their upcoming event next Wednesday, which will be an open workshop on consent, supporting survivors and bystander intervention.

Rabbi Jordan Braunig, who was introduced as one of the many confidential resources to which Tufts students can reach out, addressed the crowd next. He emphasized the prevalence of sexual violence, assault and harassment on campus and the importance of cultivating a community that demands accountability and action.

“Real justice is about seeking repair, not revenge. When the survivor’s needs and experiences are centered, when we stop thinking about retribution and punishment … then and only then can we really talk about justice being restored. May this night be only the beginning,” Braunig said.

Following the first speaker, Essence, Tufts’ all-female acapella group specialized in the African diaspora, performed two songs.

Next, Kyla Martin, a resource and prevention specialist with CARE, read the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.

“Whereas activists, survivors and allies in the past have attended Take Back the Night as a means of protest, ASAP, Green Dot and the Tufts community at large are transforming this event to focus on community care, healing, accountability and restorative justice,” a member of ASAP said. “It’s not a one time show. It is a call to action.”

Correction: A previous version of this article contained factual inaccuracies. The original article stated that members of Green Dot provided opening remarks, when in fact the executive board of ASAP provided these statements. The article misquoted an ASAP member’s remarks to say the event existed to “provide a space for people of color, gender minorities, queer folks and sex workers who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence.” The ASAP member said the event would “hold” such a space, not provide one. Finally, the article misattributed a quote to Kyla Martin, when in fact a member of ASAP said this quote. The article has been updated to reflect these changes. The Daily regrets these errors.