Annual Take Back the Night event seeks to raise awareness around sexual violence

Sanjali De Silva, Senior Staff Reporter

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This Thursday, members of the New Orleans community will gather for the annual Take Back the Night march, an event aimed at raising awareness around sexual violence. 

Tulane students and community members will march alongside students from Loyola University, University of New Orleans, Southern University of New Orleans and Dillard University. Participants will be invited to light candles, symbolizing the act of “taking back the night.” Tulane master’s student Maya Cohen is serving on the Take Back the Night committee. 

“It is imperative that Tulane students show up to the event to remind the rest of New Orleans that we are not an isolated bubble, trying to address sexual violence on our campus alone, but we are a united front working to end sexual violence together,” Cohen said. 

The event starts at 5:45 p.m. in the horseshoe lot of Loyola. Attendees can expect to hear speeches from administrators and students and listen to the Loyola choir. Tulane junior Bridget Lee will be the keynote speaker. Lee said Take Back the Night was the first time she felt heard and safe. She said the event encouraged her to find help and support. 

“Everyone’s healing journey looks, sounds, and feels very different, but for me it all started at TBTN. I am so excited to be a part of the event this year, and look forward to opening this door for healing to others as TBTN keynote speakers in the past have done for me,” Lee said. 

Courtesy of Maya Cohen

Around 6:30 p.m., the crowd will march on St. Charles Avenue, travel down Broadway Street  to Freret Street and end on Loyola’s campus. The evening will end with a Speak Out, an anonymous open mic where survivors can share their stories and people can offer support. 

Take Back the Night began in the 1970s as a national march to fight against gender-based violence. When it began, the effort was focused on bringing attention to violence against women. Since then, the scope has broadened to fight against sexual violence for all. 

“Take Back the Night has evolved significantly over the last 40+ years and today, we seek to end all forms of sexual violence through nationwide awareness events and initiatives to foster healthy relationships and safe communities,” Cohen said. 

In the past, Tulane students have been a smaller showing than students from other universities. 

“When Tulane students do not show up for an event that literally marches through our campus, it sends the message that Tulane is separate from Loyola, UNO,  SNO and Dillard,” Cohen said. “By not showing up, we send the message that we could “make space” on campus for students fighting to end sexual violence but we are not invested ourselves.”

Organizers hope to see Tulane students show up in large numbers at this year’s Take Back the Night. 

“This event isn’t just for survivors,” Lee said. “Anyone close to a victim or perpetrator is touched by this violence, and within this event we build a community of support. No one is alone in their fight during this march and I think that alone is an incredibly powerful impact.”