Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered in Houston Hall on April 4 for the annual Take Back The Night march against sexual, romantic and domestic violence.
Attendees had started work earlier in the week, making hand-drawn signs at the Penn Women's Center on Tuesday. As the sun set on the overcast sky on Wednesday, students gathered at Houston Hall for a keynote address before heading out into the night to take a stand against assault. Holding up signs that read "Break The Silence" and "Black Survivors Lives Matter," they chanted "Take Back The Night" in unison, sending echoes through campus.
Take Back the Night is an international event and nonprofit organization. At Penn, the movement takes the form of a rally, a march across campus and a speak-out where survivors of sexual violence share their stories.
This year’s keynote speaker, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, spoke to the audience briefly about her experience with relationship violence, how the body deals with trauma, and how survivors are powerful beings and should be uplifted.
Following the keynote, students braved the wind and departed Houston, marching through Penn Commons and then up to 40th Street. They then turned around, marched back down to Houston Hall, crossing the 38th Street bridge with the sun setting behind them.
Issues around sexual harassment and assault have been at the forefront of conversations at Penn this year, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement and its repercussions across higher education. Earlier this year, two students at the University Council Open Forum stood up to describe their experiences with sexual misconduct and called on the administration to improve policies around reporting sexual harassment and assault.
Many attendees of the march brought signs indicating their groups' support for Take Back The Night. The sorority Alpha Phi was one of several Greek organizations represented at the event.
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