Bishop’s stu­dents Take Back the Night

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Em­i­lie Hack­ett Spe­cial to the Record

Bishop’s Univer­sity will be hold­ing its sec­ond ever Take Back the Night march on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. at Op­ti­mist Park to de­nounce sex­ual, phys­i­cal, and emo­tional vi­o­lence. Or­ga­nized by BU stu­dent Anika Malone, the event is open to stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers. At­ten­dees are in­vited to bring posters about their ex­pe­ri­ences and to help de­nounce the sys­temic vi­o­lence that oc­curs on col­lege cam­puses.

Ac­cord­ing to a Maclean’s sur­vey con­ducted on around 23,000 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents from 81 Cana­dian schools, more than 20 per cent of fe­male stu­dents, 46 per cent of LGBTQ+ stu­dents, and 7 per cent of male stu­dents have been sex­u­ally as­saulted in their lives. About half of those as­saults oc­curred dur­ing their time in univer­sity.

Malone, a sec­ond-year busi­ness stu­dent at Bishop’s, felt com­pelled to start this move­ment when she moved of­f­cam­pus. Af­ter hear­ing dif­fer­ent tes­ti­monies from her peers re­gard­ing as­sault, she re­al­ized “al­most ev­ery­one has a story about sex­ual as­sault, that has hap­pened ei­ther to them or a friend. We need to mo­bi­lize and stand up for what is right.” Along with her friends, she formed the “Pur­ple Ladies,” the group be­hind the march.

The Take Back the Night move­ment orig­i­nated in the late 70s to con­demn vi­o­lence com­mit­ted against women af­ter the mur­der of a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist, Su­san Alexan­der Speeth, who was stabbed to death while walk­ing home alone. Over time, the move­ment be­came more in­clu­sive of male sur­vivors and sup­port­ers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

Malone and her peers want to main­tain the mo­men­tum of the Take Back the Night move­ment. In a pro­mo­tional video re­leased on the Take Back the Night march Face­book event, three men are in­cluded and speak out against sex­ual vi­o­lence. Alexan­dre Marceau, a third-year lit­er­a­ture stu­dent, ex­plained that he is “tak­ing back the night to cre­ate a pos­i­tive di­a­logue and change con­ver­sa­tional norms be­tween guys when women are not around.” They have also been care­ful to use gen­der-neu­tral pro­nouns through­out their mar­ket­ing cam­paign.

De­spite its com­mu­nal at­mos­phere, Bishop’s Univer­sity is not un­touched by the hor­rors of sex­ual, phys­i­cal, and emo­tional abuse. In ad­di­tion to the sev­eral in­stances of as­sault that go un­re­ported, there were two as­sault al­le­ga­tions brought to the at­ten­tion of the school by stu­dents walk­ing home from school around this time last year. Bishop’s then cre­ated the Safe Walk pro­gram, where stu­dents could con­tact vol­un­teers who would walk them home af­ter class at night.

When con­tacted by the Pur­ple Ladies, Dr. Stine Linden-an­der­sen, the Dean of Stu­dent Af­fairs, en­dorsed the project and gave them a gen­er­ous bud­get. “It was so im­pres­sive,” said Malone. “We were ex­pect­ing to be de­nied but Dr. Linden-an­der­sen was on board. It’s im­por­tant that we do not sweep this is­sue un­der the rug. We need to change the nar­ra­tive around as­sault at this school to tell vic­tims that it’s okay to come for­ward.”

The Pur­ple Ladies have or­ga­nized a va­ri­ety of events through­out the week lead­ing up to the march. They will be host­ing but­ton mak­ing work­shops and are giv­ing out sup­plies to make posters and bracelets. They will also have a “Tell your story” board up in the Stu­dent Union Build­ing, where sur­vivors can anony­mously write their his­tory with as­sault. They have also ac­quired 120 pink ban­danas that they will distribute be­fore the march; they en­cour­age ev­ery­one to wear them on Nov. 8.

Ul­ti­mately, Malone hopes the march will be an in­flu­en­tial event that will open the con­ver­sa­tion about sex­ual, emo­tional, and phys­i­cal abuse on col­lege cam­puses. “We need to be ac­tive,” she ex­plained. “We need to let peo­ple know that we will not tol­er­ate vi­o­lence

on our cam­pus. We’re such a strong com­mu­nity with won­der­ful fam­ily val­ues; we need to let sur­vivors know that

Bishop’s is a safe space for them to come for­ward, and that we’re do­ing all that we can to pro­tect them.”

TIM PACZYNSKI

Anika Malone (front cen­ter) is joined by an eclec­tic group of girls who re­fer to them­selves as the Pur­ple Ladies. They have or­ga­nized the Nov. 8 march against sex­ual vi­o­lence.

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