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April 15, 2005
Vol. 46 No. 20

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Rally to unite against rape

Take Back the Night aims to 'Reclaim SU' from fear

Every two-and-a-half minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted.

This statistic, provided by RAINN.org, is one of the many reasons a Take Back the Night rally will be held.

The rally, sponsored by WomenSpeak, a campus organization promoting gender equality, will take place in Isaacs Auditorium in Seibert Hall at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Although WomenSpeak is an organization unique to Susquehanna, Take Back the Night is not. According to campusoutreachservices.com, rallies began in the 1970s in Great Britain with women, men and children marching in protest of the fear that women experience when walking alone at night.

The trend caught on internationally. The first American march was held in 1978 in San Francisco.

Although Take Back the Night has the same universal foundations every year, the emphasis can change each time a rally is held.

The emphasis for this year's rally at Susquehanna is "Reclaiming SU."

This theme was chosen in response to the negative attention and press received as a result of last year's sexual assaults.

WomenSpeak's two project managers Stacy Zimmerman and Ashley Main, both sophomores, said they are hopeful about this year's rally.

They said that there are many misconceptions on campus regarding sexual assault.

Additionally, they said they are particularly shocked by the apathy of students.

Main said, "I really would like to raise the awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence's occurrence, especially here at SU.

"I think it is really important that people realize that we are not in a bubble here and that it can happen anywhere," she continued.

Main said that the most frustrating thing she experiences in regards to Take Back the Night is when she asks passing students to sign a 'Pledge to End Rape.'

Despite the fact that the pledge takes only a moment and is free, many students, she said, do not stop.

"I would hate to think that so many people on campus approve of this behavior," she said.
The rally will be in three different parts.

The first part will be a short introduction by either Main or Zimmerman.

Following the introduction, there will be three short speeches made by assistant professor of philosophy Coleen P. Zoller, health-center counselor Andy Dunlap and community member Susan Weaver Koons.

Each speech will talk about some facet of "Reclaiming SU," and will last about 10 minutes.

The third section of the rally will be a session opened up to the audience members for testimonials and discussion.

Every audience member will sign a confidentiality agreement stating that he or she will not discuss what is said during the session or who gave confessions.

Additionally, no press will be allowed into the discussion during this time.

The purpose of the testimonial session, Zimmerman said, is "to provide a safe environment where people can come and share their stories with others who care."

Testimonials can be given by those that have been sexually assaulted, those that know someone who has been sexually assaulted or those voicing their concerns.

Zimmerman said that a common misconception for this part of the rally is that only women stand up to speak. Men also speak, she said.

Main said that her biggest concern for the testimonial session was that she was afraid that people who are victims of sexual assault will not attend because they do not want to share their stories.

Additionally, those speaking can offer as much or as little personal information as they want.

The rally is open to everyone, Main and Zimmerman said.

However, those that attend must be respectful and must be aware that any information can come out during a testimonial, even information that is explicit.

Although the theme of this year's rally is reclaiming the campus, Zimmerman and Main said that the sexual assaults of the previous year will not be referred to, that it is just something that is understood and accepted by all those that will attend.

Main recommended that everyone attends the rally.

"It is a real eye-opener. You don't need to be a victim or know someone who is a victim. And if you don't, that is even more reason to come. It really shows well how much of a problem these issues are."

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