by Matthew Taylor
Pamphlets and papers flew around the UC Quad. Three teal blue tables stood to the right of The Depot entrance, pushed up close to the SAC’s concrete stairs. Dozens of paint bottles cluttered the leftmost table while various pins cluttered the right. April is international recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness month and The North Coast Rape Crisis Team alongside its on campus program Campus Advocate Team (CAT) have worked together to host its annual Take Back the Night week. The week-long event lasts from April 4 to April 7 and includes activities such as Denim Day, Clothesline Project Workshop, and Take Back the Night.
Tuesday marked Teal Day, a day dedicated to the awareness of sexual assault survivors and their stories. Students at the tabling event were encouraged to paint their expressions of positive growth and healing. By the end, all the small canvases would be placed together to form a larger mural. Liliana Cortez, the Violence Prevention Advocate at the Women’s Resource Center, expressed that the mural was an optional part of the activity.
“It’s up to them,” Cortez said. “If they want to create their piece and keep it, or if they want to go ahead and give it to us so we can make it part of [the mural].”
Together with Cortez, CAT Education Coordinator Kira Morse was also present at the table.
“We provide services here on campus for survivors of sexual assault,” Morse said. “We have counseling, we have an office here, and we also respond out if there’s any incidents or things like that and help with [things] like Title IX and accommodations.”
Rachel Mack, a Rangeland Resource Management major, was one of the handful of students painting at the table.
“It’s nice to have something positive as well as it being important for what it stands for,” Mack said, whilst painting her sunflower piece. “I think [it’s] really important for survivors to be able to have control over their own situation.”
Alexa Farias, a Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies major, expressed this event is very important to her work and role within Students for Violence Prevention.
“We actually want to be part of the whole Speak Out, because it’s a really good way to show people what it feels like to really look through the situations,” Farias said.
Speak Out is one of the many sub-events planned within Friday’s Take Back the Night program. This event will provide a safe space with counselors on hand for survivors to ‘speak out’ about their experiences and tell their stories.
“The main movement and push with Take Back the Night is that people can feel safe here on campus and have their voices heard,” Morse said. “I feel a lot of times that survivors feel like they’re hush hushed. There’s not that open space where people can name their experiences. Take Back the Night, there is a lot of this amazing support where people feel comfortable.”
Friday’s event will begin with a speech by Dr. Rachel King that will culminate into a rally and the aforementioned Speak Out event. Lasting between 6 to 10 pm, the event will end in a vigil dedicated to the victims of sexual violence.
“I feel like [this] is really good,” said psychology major John Clark. “If this could happen at most events, then people would start to see that this is a [common] thing that we should talk about.”