By Jac St. Jean
On a quiet Oct. 6 night in front of the triangle across from the Learning Commons, a flock of flickering candles were held still as a handful of students gathered for S.A.V. E.’s annual Take Back the Night event.
Students Against Violence Everywhere is a club at Springfield College associated with the Vagina Monologues group and backed by the Counseling Center. S.A.V.E. advocates to end all forms of violence across campus, from sexual assault and harassment, to domestic violence and relationship abuse.
The event began at the triangle with the lighting of the candles and a few words from the members of S.A.V.E. and Vagina Monologues who helped run the event. Students then marched to the front of Alumni Hall, where S.A.V.E. and VM director Katelee McCormic bravely shared a bit of her experience and why this night was so important to her.
“For me, this year it was really exciting to tell my story,” McCormic said. “It was nice to see so many people come out and to share those things with other people.”
McCormic said that Take Back the Night is a night to acknowledge and support people on the Springfield College campus who were victims of sexual assault and violence. The greater majority of people who were victims to these forms of violence are not open about their experiences, and for an array of reasons.
Victims of sexual violence may feel ashamed, scared, guilty, or may avoid talking about it because it is too traumatic for them to relive their harrowing experience. The purpose of Take Back the Night is to do just that: Take back the experience, acknowledge it, and conquer it.
Doing that, however, is just the beginning.
“I think it means just getting to own my story out loud,” McCormic explained. “For some people it means supporting someone through that.”
The group then headed over to the Abbey Green, where S.A.V.E. directors Pamela Marino, Justyna Gil, Bridget O’Connor and Alex Maziarz recited the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. The poem’s repetition of the phrase “I’ll rise,” creates a mantra where despite all of the difficulties and hard times, they will still get back up; they will rise.
The flickering candles then marched back to the triangle on the Naismith Green as the directors closed out the night with a few words and offered those in attendance to say a few words of their own if they pleased.
The night concluded with the playing of “Skyline Pigeons” by Elton John, and after the song ended, attendees were instructed to blow out their candles. Directors and S.A.V.E. advisor and counseling center psychologist Paige Getchell stayed for a few minutes after the event culminated so attendees could talk to them if they desired.
Take Back the Night is a tremendous step forward towards the goal of ending violence on the campus of Springfield College. Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done, and the fight is ongoing.
Be on the lookout for more events presented by S.A.V.E. such as Denim Day, Say Hey Day, Operation Beautiful coming this November, and as always, the Vagina Monologues set for next semester in April.
If you or someone you know has experienced any form of violence on campus, call Public Safety (413-748-5555), the Counseling Center (413-748-3345), or head to PrideNet to find the Student Assistance Referral link under the Offices tab.
Photo Courtesy Jacques St. Jean