Awareness, empowerment, participation

Awareness, empowerment, participation

By Austin Koeller

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Take Back the Night always empowers the audience. The multifaceted event will be held Thursday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room. The show concludes with an annual drag show.

Following speakers, audience can walk out to Take Back the Night, dance-off, win prizes, watch drag show

A woman walks alone into the night. After a long night, she just wants to get back to her dorm safely. With every step she takes, her heart beats faster and faster as she passes the nearby streetlights.

The fear rises inside as she fears that she may not make it back to her dorm safely. Nearing her dorm, she begins to walk at an even faster pace, until she reaches the front door of her dorm hall.

As she walks up the stairs to her room, she hurries inside her room, locking the door, her heart still beating from the fear of walking back to her dorm room alone.

As women continue to face the fear of walking home alone, sponsors of one upcoming campus event hope to change this by hosting a Take Back the Night event. The program will be held Thursday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union.

The event is sponsored by the Women’s Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, QSA & Sister to Sister, UNK Women and Gender Studies, Triota, LoperNites, Pepsi Funds and University Program and Activities Fees.

Take Back the Night event is a nationwide event started in the 1970s following the murder of microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed to death after walking home alone. In 1975, the first Take Back the Night event was held in Philadelphia, Pa. to raise awareness of sexual violence.

Since then, Take Back the Night has been held across college and university campuses worldwide.

“The purpose of Take Back the Night is to raise awareness that these things are happening in our community and that women should still be empowered to walk home at night,” said Jordan Loschen, a graduate assistant in the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “The goal is for students to feel empowered, to talk about the issue of sexual assault that’s happening on our campus and in our community. When we talk about this issue more, we will be able to prevent it more, stop it, and increase the reports of sexual assaults.”

Loschen said that since only 60 percent of all sexual assaults are reported, it is important to increase the reports of sexual assaults, in order to decrease the number of cases that occur.

The event will begin with two speakers speaking about sexual violence.

“It will begin … with a sexual assault survivor,” Loschen said. “She is a female, and she was sexually assaulted while a student at UNK and she still is a student.”

In order to protect the identity of the student and her story, the female speaker’s name is not being released.
The event will also feature nationally recognized speaker James Landrith.

“His case is really unique because he was actually sexually assaulted by a female,” Loschen said.

After the speakers present, the event will also feature a drag show. Loschen said that the drag show will feature six professional drag king and queens. She said that while some people have questions as to why Take Back the Night is put on along with the drag show, she feels as if both events can be empowering for different populations.

“We just want to raise awareness for the LGBTQ population through empowering and fun events such as the drag show,” Loschen said.

After the drag show, the walk to raise awareness of sexual violence will begin.

“We’re going to walk out of the union, walk to 25th Street and pause,” Loschen said. “Then, we’ll proceed to the fountain and finish up the event there.”

Throughout the night, the event will consist of activities such as dance-offs, trivia and a raffle.

The raffle, Loschen said, consists of up to $500 in prizes including gift cards to K-Mart, Nick’s Gyros, Target and Wal-Mart; five free car washes and other prizes.

Students can get free raffle tickets at tables in the atrium on Wednesday and Thursday, leading up the event. The students will receive a balloon with a random number of tickets to be entered into the raffle drawing. In addition, students will receive an additional free raffle ticket if they take a picture of the event poster, set it as their profile picture on Facebook or Twitter and show it at the event.

Loschen said that the event would not have been possible without the “generous donations and support from the community and the campus.”

“We have some great people and organizations on campus that have given us funding,” Loschen said. “Without them, this event would not be possible.”

The Take back the Night event received funding from LoperNites, University Program and Activities Fees, the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The Women’s Center sponsors activities throughout the year to raise awareness of sexual assault, including Sex Signals, Stalking Awareness, Open Mic Night, Responsibility and Love is Consent. They are teaming up with UNK Intramurals to hold a flag football tournament throughout the month of April.

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