The Crescent City Takes Back the Night hosts quarter century march

Tess Riley, News Editor Emily Fornof

On Oct. 27, more than 600 participants lit up St. Charles Avenue with candles as they marched to end domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Twenty-five years after its first march, Crescent City’s Take Back the Night hosted the event on Loyola’s campus. The local event is part of an international movement to end gender-based violence.

The event started at 6 p.m. on Loyola’s campus with speeches, prayers and a call to action. Both victims and community organizers alike spoke about the urgency of this issue and the need for immediate change.

Education Professor Al Alcazar of Loyola is one of the event’s original organizers. At this year’s event, he spoke about its origins and how the rapes of his sister and a Loyola student inspired him and other community members to take action.

According to Alcazar, the student victim was scared no one would believe her and kept the assault to herself until she could no longer function.

“It was our listening and our crying with her and my sister and others who later joined us in the presence of god at St. Ignatius, in the chapel that eventually gave birth to this event,” Alcazar said.

Despite the efforts of community members like Alcazar, sexual assault is still an epidemic that statistically affects one in four undergraduate women.

“Our task is not yet done,” Alcazar said. 

Keynote speaker Margaret Martin, a first-year law student at Tulane, spoke of her own experience with sexual assault.

“When I told my parents, they didn’t understand why I’d waited to tell them,” Martin said. “When I told my friends, they thought I was making it up for attention.”

After her assault, Martin battled post traumatic stress disorder and anorexia. Today, she has turned her pain into action and advocates for fellow survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.  

According to Martin, the most powerful thing you can do to support a survivor is simply believe them.

Students from Tulane, Loyola, Dillard, Holy Cross, Xavier and University of New Orleans rallied together in a collective effort to support this cause.

Participants marched down St. Charles Avenue, turned right on Broadway Street, turned right again on Freret Street and ended as the march returned to Loyola’s campus.

At the end of the march, participants were invited to Loyola’s Audubon Room. An open microphone was available for anyone to share their story or to express support for survivors.

An officer from the Loyola Police Department informed students that he will be teaching a Rape Aggression Defense class at Loyola’s Recreational Sports Complex as well as Tulane’s Reily Student Recreation Center.

“The need for awareness and change has never been clearer,” Erin Shapiro, Loyola University Counseling Center staff counselor, said. “This is not someone else’s problem…It is on us to create a community of respect.”

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