Toreros march to Take Back the Night
Students advocate culture of awareness for sexual assault
TAYLER REVIERE VERNINAS | THE USD VISTA | ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
“Shatter the silence, stop the violence” was the theme for this year’s Take Back the Night. On Tuesday, April 12 members of the University of San Diego community participated in the march to bring awareness for sexual assault. The march started at the Student Life Pavilion and finished at to the Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice, where the group gathered for the remainder of the event. Toreros yelled chants such as “Tell me what a feminist looks like? This is what a feminist looks like,” and “What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!” as they marched while holding signs with thematic messages and graphics of the motto.
Sophomore Amy Maltz marched alongside her friends and fellow classmates in support of the cause for awareness.
“My sorority’s philanthropy is domestic violence awareness which is interrelated with sexual assault and I wanted to participate in it,” Maltz said. “I think the most hard-hitting thing was the student testimonies because it made it hit home a lot more. I think people do not realize that these things actually happen at USD to people our age who we might live around.”
The event was sponsored by USD’s Women’s Center and featured two student testimonies that were presented at the KIPJ’s Garden of the Sea. Students and faculty surrounded the reflection pool holding candles and listening to some members of Founders Choir Chapel (FCC) sing acapella.
First year Megan McDonell was one of the FCC members singing acapella to Lady Gaga’s song “Til It Happens To You”.
“The song talks about the stigmas that people have toward sexual assault victims,” McDonell said. “It is an important song because it displays the victim’s voice in all of it. Even though some may not be able to relate, the song explains how victims just want others to listen in support and love because you don’t know until it happens to you.”
McDonell, along with fellow FCC member, senior Jaz Tinsley, helped coordinate the choir performance because they thought it would bring an overall reflective atmosphere to the vigil as a whole.
“The event was really impactful because the march walked through all parts of campus,” McDonell said. “We were chanting throughout the SLP with messages about stopping sexual assault. People stopped and looked which was cool when they asked what we were doing it for. It helped start the conversation and bring awareness to others, even if they were not marching with us.”
Tinsley also shared his experience from the evening. “Marching made me feel very empowered and that we were making a difference just seeing people stop and watch us walk by,” Tinsley said. “It was cool because the further we went the more people came along to march with us.”
The evening continued with two student testimonies regarding sexual assault awareness. The solemn procession around The Garden of the Sea illuminated the community standing together in solidarity. The student speakers gave powerful, heartfelt testimonies that impacted the solemn atmosphere of the evening.
Maltz was empowered by their stories and shared why she thinks events such as this are important within the college culture.
“It was an amazing and powerful experience to hear people talk about their experiences,” Maltz said. “Events such as Take Back the Night have powerful aspects that help get the point across to people. Some events have low participation of students, which is a shame because people work very hard on these events. A big part of USD’s core values is community service and participating in social justice initiatives such as this. It is really important that people do participate, but unfortunately not a lot of people do.”
Tinsley commented on how the on-campus event impacted his perspective on sexual assault.
“My eyes were opened a lot by the student testimonies,” Tinsley said. “It kind of instigated me to really want to make an effort to put a stop to this and further educate myself in order to do anything I can to stand up for the victims of sexual assault and relationship abuse. The overall message I received was to be active when you see something unusual happening and be strong enough to stand up and stop it even if it is for a complete stranger.”
This was McDonell’s first year experiencing this kind of march and she shared why awareness for this cause is so vital for the community.
“It is a topic that can be so easily hushed especially within the hookup culture of college,” McDonell said. “Having it be vocalized so prominently might have seemed unsettling but made it even more impactful. This is a good start but there needs to be a lot more open forum conversations among different groups on campus in order to foster a community of acceptance and love.”
Student speakers demonstrated courage through their powerful conviction and vulnerability when sharing their stories. The overwhelming love and support from the USD community exemplified the messages for spreading more awareness.