Advocacy Group Reclaims the Night
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 17:09
Walking around Georgetown’s campus, it’s difficult not to notice that there are women everywhere. With the female population topping 55 percent of the student body, it may seem like issues of women’s health and safety would be a major concern for the Georgetown community. There are countless organizations that attempt to deal with different aspects of these complex issues, but Take Back the Night, a group that works to spread awareness of violence and sexual assault against women, front and center.
However, during the last few years, their campus presence has been greatly diminished due to unresponsive leadership, and their important messages about gender violence have been lost in the fast-paced world of Georgetown clubs and extracurriculars.
That’s all about to change. This year, Take Back the Night is under entirely new management and is ready to get back to its roots and step back into the campus spotlight. Co-chairs Lena Hermans (COL ’14), Kat Kelley (NHS ’14) and Deanna Arthur (SFS ’14) are determined to put issues of sexual assault and domestic violence back at the forefront of campus discussion.
It is often a difficult statistic to accept, but studies have shown that one in four college women have been or will be sexually assaulted while attending school. Arthur, herself a survivor of sexual assault, is working with Kelley and Hermans to challenge the perception among students that sexual assault or domestic violence can’t happen to them.
“It is something very real, and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you, and it’s not something that has to ruin ... or completely alter your life,” Arthur said.
However, while they often discuss rape and domestic violence, Take Back the Night is far from one sided. “We don’t just have to be the group that says ‘Oh, we don’t like rape,’ and that’s the only thing we are concerned about. We want to be very holistic about education,” Hermans said.
The chairs have big plans for increased campus presence through film screenings, speakers and outreach efforts in the greater Georgetown and D.C. communities. They also are planning to get more students involved with local nonprofit organizations benefiting victims and the prevention of sexual assault. Two of the group’s most popular events are always R.U. Ready, a discussion about sexual assault on campus, and their presentation of “The Vagina Monologues,” a controversial play performed at universities across the country. R.U. Ready will take place Oct. 3, while “The Vagina Monologues” are typically performed in February.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how this group can grow and how we can talk about these issues without it being this big, scary, foreign, distant thing, because [sexual assault] is a very real thing, and it’s something to be dealt with,” Arthur said.