Take Back the Night a Success After Postponement

After being postponed for a week due to the campus-wide lockdown on April 19, The Women’s and Gender Resource Center (WGRC) hosted Dickinson’s annual Take Back the Night event in Allison Hall to show support for survivors of sexual assault. 

Student organizer Sofia Perrone ’25 said, “The entire purpose is to create an environment where students feel safe.” 

The event included an address by keynote speaker Dr. Sara Walters, a YA author and advocate for sexual assault survivors, a taped performance by the Infernos acapella group, students reading survivor love letters, and survivors telling their stories. Then, led by student organizers, attendees marched around campus before finishing the night with a candlelight vigil on Britton Plaza.

This was the first Take Back the Night event held during Dr. Katie Schewighofer’s tenure as director of the WGRC, which Perrone said “brings a lot of excitement,” though the organizers miss former WGRC director Donna Bickford.   

Perrone told The Dickinsonian that the organizers made some changes since last year’s event to take into consideration the way survivors might interact with the event. The content of survivor stories, the keynote address, and the experiences shared during the vigil can be triggering for some, Perrone said. 

“It’s always important to remind ourselves that survivors are at different places,” she said. “Creating a safe space means alerting students that they might want to remove themselves.”

One of the most valuable parts of the night for many is “the sense of community that students find,” according to Perrone. In the first week after the event, she said, people tend to share their stories more openly, which can “build a network that you can turn to.” 

Take Back the Night is important, but Perrone would also like to see more student-centered spaces on campus that support survivors. “I think we need to have these spaces as students that are outside the administration,” she said. 

In the meantime, though, Perrone would encourage other students to get involved with organizing Take Back the Night. Students should do what they can to “educate and encourage” each other to support sexual assault survivors, she said.