On Thursday, Take Back the Night, a national event celebrated annually at UT, will furnish an intimate night dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Sponsored by the Women's Coordinating Council, Take Back the Night is a four-part event that begins with a silent march around campus. Next, speaker Katie Hnida will present her experiences, followed by a speak out during which individuals can share their own personal experiences with domestic violence and sexual assault. Lastly, a candlelight vigil will honor all victims. The event will begin on Pedestrian Walkway.
WCC Media Relations Chair Cassie Kerr, a senior in political science, believes the event will "open a dialogue" about difficult topics like violence and abuse.
"This event is very powerful and close to all of our hearts because, whether or not we have personally been affected, when one-fourth of women and one-third of college women are victims, we all know someone who is," Kerr said, "so it's something we can all care about."
According to Stephanie Powers, an English literature and philosophy major as well as co-coordinator of Take Back the Night, the main goal of the event Thursday is "to bring an awareness to the campus and add our voice to the fight to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence" and "empower survivors in the healing process and encourage them to share their stories in the hope of helping others."
Power spoke highly of the event's speaker.
Katie Hnida, Take Back the Night's speaker, played college football at two universities and was the first woman to score in an NCAA football game. In 2004, Hnida reported sexual harassment and rape during her time at the University of Colorado.
"We chose her because her story was incredibly powerful and we thought it would touch a lot of people," Powers said. "She is a wonderful example of someone who took something terrible that happened to them and used it as a tool to fight a problem much bigger than themselves. She is a true example of a survivor."
Yet, Shawana Davis, senior in College Scholars and a member of WCC, considers the event unique in its approach toward domestic violence awareness.
"Take Back the Night is more than just an event for domestic violence," Davis said. "It's an opportunity to support those who have experience these tragedies whether primarily or secondary. The awareness that this event brings is one of genuine care. When people come to the march and the event, it's because you care about the hurt that people have experienced or are currently hiding.
"This is a moment for people to internally transition from victims to survivors with the support of their fellow Volunteers."
The inception of Take Back the Night took place in 1975 after the murder of microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, in Philadelphia, Pa. That October, the first Take Back the Night occurred.
Gaining international recognition, Take Back the Night has successfully directed a great deal of attention toward the issue.
"We have been doing this event for several years and it has always been quite successful," Powers said. "It is such an important event because there are very few events on campus that speak out against domestic and sexual violence on such a large scale."
Take Back the Night will take place this Thursday, Oct. 24 from 6-10 p.m. in the UC Ballroom.