Bishop’s students Take Back the Night
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.”
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.