Stephanie Brown/The Hoya A dancer from Ballet Folklorico performs at the closing rally for last week’s Take Back the Night activities on Friday night in Red Square.

Red Square was a little noisier than usual last Friday night, as about 250 members of the Georgetown community gathered there for a rally and march to raise awareness about gender violence. The event served as the culmination of a week of events for Take back the Night Week, which aims to empower the Georgetown community against violence and to cultivate a feeling of safety on campus. Take Back the Night stressed using the tools of education and communication to achieve an end to violence

“This year’s Take Back the Night went really well. We were very excited with the events we were able to bring to campus this year.” TBTN co-chair Liz Ellcessor (SFS ’04) said.

The week’s events culminated Friday night beginning with a rally in Red Square, followed by a march around campus and the local neighborhood. The march ended with a speakout, where students gathered to reflect on the impact of violence on their lives.

The annual rally included speeches by several students who were victims of abuse, performances by the all-female a cappella groups Gracenotes and Harmony and dance groups Ballet Folklorico and the Step Team, and an address from philosophy professor Alisa Carse.

The student speakers offered their words of wisdom in addressing the struggle to put an end to violence against women.

“Rape continues because no one tells,” student speaker Gaelan Gallagher (COL’06) said. “We need to break the silence; otherwise there is no end to this crime.”

Student speaker Luis Torres (COL’05) also offered his words on gendered violence, saying he hoped that everyone would get something out of the week’s events.

“Violence affects people’s lives and how they see the world,” Torres said. “We are taking back the night from those who feel they can violate the dignity of other people. We won’t sit quietly; we know that we have a voice and we will say something.”

Carse spoke about the importance of celebrating what is right while challenging what is wrong about culture and communities, and she also offered her interpretation of what it meant to `take back the night.'”

“The night is the loneliness, the unrequited love, the anxiety about academic pressure, the disorientation. These are normal in forming a distinctive identity,” Carse said. “There exists a shadowed world in this shining campus, where night permeates the day, but we need to find ways to break the cycles of shame.”

Carse then noted how Georgetown is changing to accommodate awareness of abuse and violence on campus.

“There is now a wider consciousness of sexual problems on campus . attention is being paid on how to break the silence, but we can always express ourselves more fluently,” Carse said.

In addition to Friday night’s rally, march and speakout, Thursday night’s theatrical presentation of the student-written “Until Someone Wakes Up,” attracted approximately 150 people to Bulldog.

“The play examined gender violence from all perspectives and in all forms,” Ellcessor said.

Students also had the opportunity to attend a variety of events throughout the week, including Monday night’s Open Mic Night in Uncommon Grounds.

“People really enjoyed having a supportive audience in front of which to perform and talk about issues of gender violence,” Ellcessor said.

Events continued on Tuesday night with a Street Harassment Workshop with Martha Langelan, the author of BACK OFF! How To Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers. Following was a documentary, Rape Is., which depicted many faces and forms of sexual violence, and its impact on the lives of millions of women, men and children.

Wednesday night offered a program for men, talking about the role men can play in preventing gender violence.

“This workshop drew about 25 men, which is great to hear,” Liz Trautman (SFS ’05), co-chair of Take Back the Night events, said. “What’s important to us is not just the number of people, but seeing people that we don’t know, who came because they saw a sign and were interested, and not just because a friend made them.”

Although Take Back the Night 2003 has ended, Ellcessor and Trautman said they were already thinking about events for next year’s events.

“We’re interested in working with other groups and continuing to hold events throughout the spring semester,” said Ellcessor.

Trautman said that the week was very effective overall.

“I think through our visibility we get the word out that people on our campus believe that gender violence is unacceptable. We make the community that there are survivors of violence on our campus, and that there are resources on and off campus for them,” Trautman said.

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