Between 600 and 700 students will have to wait until the spring semester before they can attend the Women’s Center annual Take Back the Night event.
The new date for Take Back the Night is now March 30, as opposed to being held in September, and will still be held on Cutchin Field.
The date will be in time for Kentucky’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month in March and the National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
The annual event, held to raise awareness to fight sexual assault and violence, has been held during the fall semester previously, but the move is to align the event with other initiatives and increase attendance.
Last year, a few hundred students attended Take Back the Night. The theme was making sure rape and sexual assault didn’t define a person’s character.
Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, said the Purchase Area Sexual Assault Center holds many of its initiatives during March and April, and the Women’s Center wants to partner with them to bring those initiatives to campus.
“It fits with a lot of what the community does to move it to that time,” French said.
While the date aligns well with awareness month and other sexual assault awareness events, French said the move also falls during the beginning of Greek Week.
She said typically 500 Greek members attend Take Back the Night and the Women’s Center wanted to move it to a time when those organizations can take advantage of the event and continue to be big supporters.
The date change is not the only difference attendees will notice.
The Women’s Center is also changing the theme focus on bystander intervention.
French said it is estimated that one-third of sexual assaults occur in the presence of a bystander, and she said that if a bystander were to intervene, one-third of assault could be prevented.
“We really want to begin to focus on educating students about bystander intervention, what that means, how they can be involved at their comfort level by giving them real, practical options for doing that,” she said.
She said the survivor stories that have been told in the past have been great, but have left some students feeling helpless.
With the theme of bystander intervention, French hopes students can better know how to prevent sexual assault.
By sharing stories of intervention, French said the idea behind the theme is that it will normalize the behavior and see intervention as something students can do to help others.
Paige Wilson, senior from Warsaw, Ky., said she thinks the date change coincides well with Greek Week and believes it is important for Greek members to know how to prevent sexual assault.
As a member of Greek Life, she said the organizations hold a large number of events and parties, making the possibility of sexual assault more likely.
Because of this, she said Greeks should know what to do and how to help each other in those situations.
Wilson said she thinks a bystander intervention theme will be good change, but that the victim stories shared in the past were influential for attendees and therapeutic for victims.
She said she could understand how students are left feeling hopeless after Take Back the Night, and the bystander intervention theme can provide a solution to student hopelessness.
“I feel like they can sometimes leave you hanging on a cliff,” she said. “You’re left like, ‘oh my gosh, I have all this emotion’, and then they don’t bring (attendees) back down to a solution or what we can do. It would help for students to know what they can do and what we as a campus can do.”
Story by Mary Bradley, Assistant News Editor