On Thursday, April 20, Ramapo College had its annual Take Back The Night march. Take Back The Night (TBTN) is an international event often held on college campuses as a form of protest against sexual, domestic and relationship violence. It is meant to bring survivors and allies of this violence together to remind them they are not alone and reinforce that their experiences matter. 

At Ramapo College, the night started out with a “speak out," which is common. This component consists of survivors speaking out about the abuse they have faced since they are too often silenced or are afraid to report what happened to them. After that, the students marched across campus at night as a sign of reclaiming the dark as a safe space because men and women are often assaulted when it is dark. There was a sense of pride when the group displayed their strength as they continued to march even though several men on campus told them to go home. Other TBTN events across various college campuses include rallies and vigils.

When the event first became prevalent on college campuses, men were excluded from the event because the creators of it wanted a safe space for women, as the event was created to combat women’s issues and other feminist concerns. However, critics said that this rule was not inclusive to men who also face violence and can imply that their experiences are not valid. In current times, generally all colleges allow male allies and survivors to participate in TBTN events. Ramapo College is one of them, thankfully.

TBTN events are incredibly important to have on college campuses because of the staggering rates of sexual assaults and intimate partner violence that occurs on them. According to RAINN, or Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 11.2 percent of all college students will experience sexual assault.

When that number is broken down further, 23.1 percent of female college students and 5.1 percent of male college students will experience sexual assault. Additionally, 21 percent of students who identify as either transgender, genderqueer or gender-nonconforming will be sexually assaulted.

Intimate partner violence is just as much of a problem on college campuses, though it is not talked about as often. According to the Justice Department, college age women (16-24), experience the highest per capita rates of intimate partner violence. Furthermore, 21 percent of college students report that they have experienced dating violence by the hand of their partner.

Some of the first women to participate in TBTN founded Take Back The Night Foundation in 2001. The non-profit organization works to create safe communities and seeks to end all forms of sexual violence. In addition to providing free legal assistance to survivors of sexual assault & violence on college campuses, they also provide free legal assistance to survivors of statutory rape, sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic violence, to name a few. They also provide meaningful internship opportunities for college students, which you can check out here. If you want more information about TBTN, you can also check out their website.

Lead Image Credit: Ramapo College