Students fight to end sexual violence


Students march together with signs and banners displaying solidarity against sexual violence, April 23.

Photo by Diana Furman | Lifestyle Reporter

Diana Furman

Brave students stood together in solidarity, raising their voices with for those who may be too afraid to speak.

Bobcats gathered around the Stallions April 23 at 6 p.m., rallying together against sexual violence.

The fourth annual Take Back the Night was led by Men Against Violence during the Sexual Assault Awareness Month of April. The protest included a march across campus and spoken word poetry hosted by Ebony Stewart, poet and three-time slam champion, at the LBJ Student Center Amphitheater.

Take Back the Night is a protest that began in the 1970s. It aims to rid the streets of sexual violence, regaining the power for people to move freely and safely throughout the streets during the day and at night.

MAV Vice President Derek Miller, acting sophomore, led chants as the organization trekked across campus. With peaceful fists raised in the air, posters and a confident march, protestors called for rights to their own bodies and the end of sexual assault.

Miller said as a queer individual he was drawn to join MAV to learn more about the roles of men and women in society.

“The stigma we have around gender often leads to why a majority of perpetrators are men and a majority of the survivors are women,” Miller said.

Take Back the Night was originally intended to fight for women; however, it has become about fighting for and alongside anyone who has experienced sexual violence.

The group of protesters included both sexual assault survivors and supporters. Yliana Muniz, criminal justice freshman, said she is a sexual assault survivor. She said surviving sexual assault has given her the strength to handle difficult situations and provide support for others who have experienced the same thing.

“I really want survivors to know it really isn’t their fault,” Muniz said.

Riley Shuffield, accounting freshman, is a member of MAV and has witnessed the effects sexual violence has had on his friends. He said he finds it important for those who have not experienced sexual assault to stand beside victims and give them the strength they need to rise against the violence inflicted upon them.

“I think victims often are fearful to stand up against what they’ve gone through and my mission is to give a voice to anyone who may be to afraid to speak,” Shuffield said.

The Counseling Center and Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center had booths outside the amphitheater. They provided support and information for students battling sexual violence. Both organizations offer free and confidential counseling for students who are victims of sexual assault.

Once the protest concluded, Stewart led students in sharing their experiences of sexual violence through spoken word poetry. Tears were shed, applause roared and arms stretched outward in a show of support for the speakers as if to say, “I am here for you.”

Sexual violence comes in a variety of forms. Raising awareness, maintaining empathy, and seeking justice for the victims are the first steps in creating a safer environment. As survivors and supporters chanted proudly by the Stallions, Bobcats continued to rise up against sexual violence and fight to take back the night.

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