Students fight to “Take Back the Night”

By Jessie Webster

Students marching through  Champaign Thursday night chanted “claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand. Take back the night.”

This 36th annual Take Back the Night March and Rally started at Lincoln Square Mall and ended with a rally on the Engineering Quad, where sexual assault survivors shared their stories.

Salamishah Tillet, an activist and co-founder of A Long Walk Home Inc., a Chicago based sexual assault advocacy organization, gave the keynote speech.

The rally marked the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is observed nationwide.

Jordan Schwartz, University alumnus, said he felt compelled to return to campus for the event.

“It’s a good cause,” Schwartz said. “Sexual assault is a terrible epidemic all over campuses across the country and across the world. Visible support is important.”

Members of the University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, especially from the Army and the Air Force, marched along with students and community members.

Major Michelle Campbell, assistant professor of Air Force Aerospace Studies, said it is important for future members of the military to understand the problem sexual assault has been in the past.

“Just like sexual assault is a problem on college campuses, it’s a problem in the military too,” Campbell said. “We are here to show our support.”

Ilya Vorobyev, a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program and freshman in LAS, said cadets are trained in how to recognize signs of sexual assault, and are told to alert authorities if they witness or experience assault.

“We’re frequently participating in events like these to raise awareness for how awful and how prevalent sexual assault is,” Vorobyev said.

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