Marchers rally to ‘Take Back the Night,’ promote awareness of violence against women


K-State Idol winner Samantha Clemons sang in the twilight at Triangle Park Thursday night, uniting about 80 women, men and children in solidarity against violence toward women at the annual Take Back the Night march.

The crowd started at Bosco Student Plaza, where Ordinary Women members Jessica Haymaker, Melisa Posey, Madeline Wetta and faculty member Lisa Tatonetti spoke and read poetry to set the tone for the evening.

TBTN is sponsored by OW, a feminist group on campus. The purpose of the march is to symbolize women reclaiming areas that become predatory after dark.

“We aren’t only recognizing the violence in our lives here, but in the lives of women around the world,” Haymaker, senior in social work, said in her introduction.

Posey delivered the final speech that kicked off the march through the damp April night. The speech had been written for TBTN 2008 by Shireen Roshanaravan, assistant professor of women’s studies.

“Even though the weather makes it uncomfortable out here, it’s appropriate because we’re talking about an uncomfortable subject,” Posey, junior in women’s studies, said. “What kind of social norms allow rape, assault and incest to become everyday occurrences? I’m holding you accountable that I had to read [Roshanaravan’s] speech again. We haven’t made any progress since last year. Until we start marking off things on our to-do list, we will read this speech year after year.”

The women-only march stopped traffic and canvassed Aggieville, ending in Triangle Park at the corner of Anderson and Manhattan avenues. K-State groups Wildcats Against Rape, Amnesty International, Choice USA and progressive fraternity Delta Lambda Phi had tables set up there against a backdrop of hand-decorated T-shirts from violence survivors and survivor advocates.

Pat Brooks, senior in women’s studies, was once a police violence advocate at the Riley County Crisis Center. She said it was her first TBTN march.

“I’ve known several women on campus who have been assaulted, and I’ve also been a victim of domestic violence, so the issue is personal to me,” Brooks said.

Before she left, Clemons said she was honored to perform for the event and believes that speaking about violence is the only way to confront it.

“People don’t want to talk about things like that, but it’s really important that people raise awareness about violence against women,” Clemons said.

The country band The Great Outdoors followed her acoustic performance.