Next week, UTEP will celebrate 25 years of the annual Take Back the Night, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 at the Union Building East, inside the Union Cinema. The event is part of a larger, international event that combats sexual and domestic violence against women.
The event is free and open to the public, and aims to identify the danger signs of a non-healthy relationship, seek/share information regarding issues of sexual abuse and violence and identify the role that individuals play in ending violence against women, according to organizers.
At UTEP, Take Back the Night is hosted by the Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education department (CARE) in collaboration with other university organizations such as Campus Violence Prevention, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, Do One Thing-Bystander Intervention, Military Student Success Center, Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), Psi Chi, Student Engagement and Leadership Center (SELC) and the UTEP Police Department.
The event will feature the personal experiences of UTEP students and community members, a keynote speaker and a T-shirt project followed by a candlelight vigil.
The keynote speaker will be Rape Prevention Education Coordinator Juliette Grimmett from North Carolina State University. Master of Ceremony will be Christian Clarke, a UTEP alumna who started Take Back the Night at UTEP 25 years ago. She will return to her alma mater to lead the event during its anniversary.
Madeline Diaz, a sophomore majoring in political science, believes this event will do a lot of good for the community.
“Sexual violence often is birthed from ignorance and misinformation, and so any event to bring awareness and education is something I can see as necessary or beneficial,” Diaz said.
The TBTN Foundation helps communities hold various events like, “Bike for the Night” and “Yoga for Healing,” marathons like the 5K, “Glow Runs.” They also host international and regional training conferences to spread awareness.
Nationally, TBTN started under the leadership of Katie Koestner, the first woman in the United States to come forward nationally and publicly as the victim of campus “date” rape. The primary goal was to form a hub for information sharing, resources and support for both survivors and event holders. Now, the TBTN Foundation collects anecdotes, photos, memorabilia and oral histories from participants in past and current events around the world.
Evelyn Torres, a senior majoring in engineering leadership, and her friend Christopher Herrera, a graduate student studying electrical engineering, have attended the event before and they agree it left them very humbled.
“Take Back the Night has really come to show me that it is possible to see the sunlight after a night full of darkness. Much respect for those that have been able to open up about their story as much as these people have, a true admiration,” Torres said.
“Take Back the Night made me realize how much of a story every single one of us carries on our shoulders, we are so prompt to judge a book by its cover without realizing how impacted they have been by another individual of our own,” Herrera said.
An organization called the Vancouver Rape Relief held TBTN marches from 1980 to 1985. In 1981, the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers declared the evening of the third Friday of September as the annual time for TBTN marches nationwide. Currently, hundreds of communities throughout the country hold events in September.
Today, the TBTN foundation has supported the addition of more than 300 event holders in the last 10 years with more communities joining each year.
For information, visit takebackthenight.org or www.utep.edu/student-affairs/care.