Students and community members will march through the streets of Fort Collins Thursday night to speak out against sexual assault and show support for survivors and their allies.
Maryanne Miko Flasik, first year veterinary student, worked at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center as an undergrad at CSU. This year, as a member of the Campus Feminist Alliance, she has played an active role in organizing Take Back the Night.
“It’s an opportunity for survivors and allies to get together and take back the power that’s been taken away from them,” Flasik said.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Monfort Quad. The speak out will go from 6:30 p .m. – 7:30 p.m., and then attendees will march from the Monfort Quad, through the Oval, to Civic Center Park.
After the march to Civic Center Park, keynote speaker Vanessa Santana will address the crowd. According to Flasik, Santana is a CSU alumna and worked at the WGAC during her time as a graduate student.
Sexual assault is a prevalent issue that college campuses need to discuss and be aware of, according to Campus Feminist Alliance President Suzie Pendergast.
“The perpetrators (of sexual assault) are far more elusive than the masked man in the dark alley,” Pendergast wrote in an email to the Collegian. “There needs to be a space available for students to feel safe. Survivors need to know where they can turn to in order to find support and love.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the WGAC is hosting many other events open to students, including a WGAC open house Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in LSC 234.
Take Back the Night is a worldwide event and CSU has been hosting its own since 1998, according to Pendergast.
“This event allows students, faculty and community members to come together to share stories, heal in their personal journey and support one another,” Pendergast wrote. “Sexual violence is an issue affecting all populations regardless of gender, race, age or socioeconomic status.”
Catherine Otero, freshman wildlife biology student, said she joined the Campus Feminist Alliance this year and was very involved in organizing Take Back the Night.
“I think it’s super important that we support the victims and survivors of sexual assault because, like with feminism, I think that sexual assault has this stigma,” Otero said. “I really think Take Back the Night will help them realize that it wasn’t their fault, and hopefully empower them to continue on.”
According to Flasik, about 300 people attended the event last year, and she believes that it is popular because sexual assault affects so many people.
“It’s a really impactful moment to see hundreds of people marching down College Avenue for sexual assault awareness,” Flasik said.
Otero said that she hopes this event will show how prevalent sexual assault is, and that survivors are not alone.
“I hope they realize that the CSU community is really supportive, and Fort Collins as a whole,” Otero said.
Collegian City Beat Reporter Sady Swanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan.