Students and staff gathered at Schrock Plaza last Thursday night to “Take Back the Night” and support victims of sexual violence. 

The march was hosted by the Prevention Intervention Network. According to their Instagram, “Take Back the Night is the oldest worldwide movement dedicated to ending sexual, relationship and domestic violence in all forms.” 

First, attendees heard a message from Emma Gingerich, a junior history major on the planning committee for the event. She read a message adapted from the Take Back the Night Foundation Event Planning Guide: “We stand together, refusing to be silent about sexual violence … We chant to say we should be safe, live without fear of violence, and support each other. We walk to celebrate the steps we are taking to heal and support those who are healing. … We reclaim the night as a space that historically has not been safe for women and other marginalized identities.” 

More than twenty students and staff members came to march. The group circled from Schrock Plaza around the east side of campus and ended back in front of the Good Library. As they walked, they shouted chants, like “I should be able to walk alone!” or “One in four is one too many!” referencing the proportion of women who will experience sexual violence in their lives. 

“This was part of the NO MORE week of action,” Gingerich said. “NO MORE is an organization that’s dedicated to ending sexual assault and sexual violence.” 

To recognize the week of action, PIN did a social media campaign and handed out posters with the words “No More” to the campus community. 

“PIN is just constantly looking for ways to reach out to other networks across the country and … tap into other outside resources and bring them onto campus,” Gingerich said. 

Shayne Wassell and Shadai McMasters attended the event and appreciated the focus on safety at night. 

“I like that it’s especially at night because I grew up with domestic violence,” Wassell said. “I had to escape my house at night, so taking back the night is really important to me because it’s like taking back my safety.”

“A good amount of assaults that happen or catcalling that happen are when women are alone at night,” McMasters said. “It’s a time that’s very vulnerable for us. And it’s not the victims’ fault. It’s the people who are preying on people who are vulnerable, so I think that’s really important.”

Drew Smoker, a senior engineering physics major, was also involved in planning the event. She wanted the march to bring “awareness and visibility.”

“So often instances of sexual assault get pushed under the rug,” she said. Smoker also thought it was an important demonstration of solidarity with people who have experienced sexual assault. “It’s just as much about empowering survivors as it is stopping sexual violence from occurring.”

Gingerich was pleased with the turnout. “I think for it being the first time we’ve done this in years and people not knowing a ton about it this was a pretty good start, so if we want to do it again in the future we’re in good shape.” 

The last Take Back the Night event was in the fall of 2016. It was put on by the former Goshen Student Women’s Association, which has since disbanded. 

Campus members looking for more information about PIN, NO MORE and the event can find it on PIN’s Instagram, @goshencollegepin.