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From left: Robin Jones, Liz Herron and Sally Neidhard carry a Take Back the Night banner as they lead the march around Athens. The April 22, 2010, march was part of Take Back the Night week, during which various events were organized to promote awareness of domestic and sexual abuse. (Alex K. Stein | File Photo)

OU students march to fight fear and sexual violence on campus

While Court Street might often overflow with groups of girls heading out for weeknight fun, many are parading the streets Thursday evening for a different purpose.

Ohio University Student Senate’s Women’s Commission, along with the Survivor Advocacy Program and several other on-campus organizations, will host the annual Take Back the Night march and rally Thursday.

Take Back the Night, in its 33rd year at OU, is a national march to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence. Hundreds of women march to “reclaim the night” from the fear that causes women to walk in groups, or not at all, for safety reasons, according to a news release.

“Take Back the Night tells the community that the men and women of this university and community don’t condone sexual assault or violence,” said Victoria Calderon,

Student Senate’s Women Affairs Commissioner. “Living on a college campus, women’s odds of being sexually assaulted raise to one in four. So, if there’s a time to educate people about awareness and prevention, it’s now.”

Because of the higher risk of assault on college campuses, the marches are typically conducted at universities.

“College-aged women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group,” said Mackenzie Bentley, treasurer of People Acting for Gender Equality. “I really think the education needs to start at a younger age. Being a survivor myself, I feel if I would have been educated about this before, I would have known what happened to me was not only wrong, but also illegal.”

While events relating to sexual assault and its prevention have occurred all week, the week is named after Thursday’s march and rally. Women will gather at Scripps Amphitheater at 7 p.m. to hear Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder speak.

Addington and Tieder are sexual assault survivors and educators who became close friends following their assaults. The pair now speak to others about the realities of sexual assault and have been featured on Dateline NBC and The Fox Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.

After the speeches and a performance by the women’s a cappella group Title IX, the march will begin at Scripps Amphitheater and move through campus. The women will hold signs they made earlier in the week at a kickoff event.


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