Campus Organization Shines Light on Sexual Violence

Members of TBTN hold boxes of clothes to be donated to Grateful Garments. Photo By Olivia Lane

Take Back the Night (TBTN) is an international event, and a non-profit organization founded in the 1970s. It is one of the earliest worldwide protests against violence and sexual violence. Hundreds of events ranging from marches, to rallies, to vigils are all in protest, and in direct action against rape and other forms of sexual or domestic violence. In the 2000s, original protesters in the ‘70s banded together to create the Take Back the Night Foundation, which supports such events on a national and international level.

“One in three women worldwide experience some form of sexual violence or intimate partner violence,” the foundation’s website reads. “One in six men experience sexual violence. Less than 50 percent of victims report these crimes.”

The 501(c)3 charity seeks to “create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives,” according to their website.

Fourth-year student Olivia Lane, is the president of the Take Back the Night division of New Paltz. 

“I’m honestly not sure how long TBTN has been a club on campus because the name has changed over the years,” Lane said. “But there has been a student collective focused on sexual violence for quite a long time.”

Every Spring semester, the Take Back the Night Club organizes an annual event to empower survivors of domestic and sexual violence, while also raising awareness about sexual violence, according to Lane.

“We also organize smaller events throughout the year,” Lane said. “Last semester we organized a clothing drive for Grateful Garment, an organization that provides clothing to survivors of sexual violence after a sexual assault examination in a hospital.” 

 “We also organized a tabling event before Halloween to provide information about consent and safe sex, she continued. “In years past we have also organized events about self care, Title IX, sexual assault on college campuses, and more.”

The club itself is fairly laid back but set on accomplishing their goals. 

“Our club is very relaxed, but we are determined to get things done. All of our club members help to organize events,” Lane said. “We have an amazing executive board, but we do not hold formal elections because we are a student collective and we all work together.”

Second-year student Tara Manning is a member of the Take Back the Night Club and continually feels inspired by her fellow club members.

“My favorite part about TBTN is absolutely the community that this organization has created,” Manning said. “The people I work with have inspired me so much.”

The Take Back the Night Club has collaborated with many other clubs at New Paltz, primarily those that are based in advocacy and activism, according to the President. 

The club aims to create a place of refuge and safety for those in the SUNY New Paltz community who are survivors of sexual assault and violence. The club looks to the future in garnering an even more welcoming space for survivors.

“We hope to create an even better space for survivors to feel validated and empowered,” Lane said. 

She also remarked on this year’s mission. 

“This year in particular we are working on getting more involved with other student organizations so we can more effectively examine the complicated intersections of sexual violence and rape culture.” 

Club members are currently organizing their annual spring event, called Take Back the Night, which will take place on April 21, 2018. Check the SUNY New Paltz Take Back the Night page on Facebook and follow @tbtn_np on Instagram to stay up to date on all things TBTN

Manning said meetings are times she looks forward to.

“TBTN is one if my favorite parts if the week and it is such an important space where I am able to make a positive difference for our campus community.”

“I think that TBTN’s message is incredibly important, especially given the recent media exposure to an issue that has been silenced for too long,” Manning said. “As more and more individuals speak out against their abusers and are given a platform to share their stories, I hope that TBTN becomes a place where the SUNY NP community feels safe and empowered to do so as well!”

When asked about the clubs’ purpose, Club President Lane’s reply was astute.

“Take Back the Night was founded on the idea that everyone should feel safe walking alone at night,” she said.

Anyone is welcome to join. Meetings are held 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in SUB 414.