Students wearing T-shirts with messages of hope, healing, and forgiveness lined the back of the stage at University of Maine’s annual Take Back the Night March and Rally on Thursday, Oct. 12. Around 150 students and staff turned out to support non-violence and raise awareness about sexual violence against women. The event was held in the North Pod of Memorial Union and was co-chaired by the Student Women’s Association (SWA) and The Safe Campus Project.
Keynote speaker State Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, is a 2002 graduate of UMaine and currently works part time at the Honors College. She spoke about how sexual violence affects everyone and how raising awareness is key to ending the issue.
“We need to talk about it. We need to demystify it,” Cain said. She stressed the need to realize that sexual violence is a problem, regardless of who has been affected by it.
SWA co-chair Emily Lord reminded students that there is more to fighting violence than just awareness, and that we must become united in the fight against violence. First-year journalism major, Mindy Hart said, “I was impressed with the campus reaction to the event. It was a very open and welcoming atmosphere.”
Other speakers included Spruce Run, Rape Response Services, Male Athletes Against Violence, Athletes for Sexual Responsibility, Carey Nason of the Safe Campus Project and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
Music was provided by Renaissance, UMaine’s premiere female a cappella group, and a poem was recited by the All Maine Women Honor Society. After the performers, a Survivor Speak Out was held as an opportunity for those who had been affected by sexual violence to talk about their experiences.
“I think it’s a really great event. It really makes me proud to go to a school that has a TBTN and to see the deans marching and chanting with their students and speaking out against violence.” said Lisa Silva, a third-year new media major.
After the speak-out, those in attendance lit candles and participated in a march around campus led by public safety Sgt. Deb Mitchell.