The issues of misogyny and sexual violence have become controversial topics of discussion on the USC during the last several weeks, after recent scandals plagued the Greek community.
Take Back the Night, a national event aimed at increasing awareness of sexual and domestic violence, hopes to continue this discussion in a meaningful way with tonight’s event at USC.
“We’re trying to start a conversation about the mentality and culture that is behind these types of incidents,” said Kaitlin Meek, a senior majoring in public relations and the director of public relations for Take Back the Night. “Take Back the Night is coming at a very interesting time this year. It is unfortunate that these events did happen, but it’s nothing new; this mind set has been around forever.”
The Take Back the Night Rally will be held tonight at Tommy Trojan from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and will feature performances by multiple campus organizations.
The problem of sexual violence is widespread among college campuses in America, according to Todd Henneman, assistant director of the USC Center for Women and Men.
According to a 2005 study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, one in five women in America experiences a rape during college, but less than 5 percent of attempted and completed rapes are brought to the attention of campus authorities and law enforcement.
“There are probably many other sexual assaults that have occurred that we don’t know about, so the statistics only reflect what the students have reported to the university,” Henneman said. “It is very likely that there are other students out there who have been a victim of sexual assault and have never told a university official.”
Meek said she hopes Take Back the Night will counteract this culture of silence associated with sexual and domestic violence.
“This has become such a taboo subject in our culture, even though it’s something that affects virtually everyone, either directly or indirectly,” Meek said. “There’s a lot of controversy that surrounds this issue, and a lot of times people don’t want to accept it because it’s hard for them to do so.”
Take Back the Night also hopes to get men involved in the conversation about sexual and domestic violence.
“A lot of times guys are afraid that if they talk about sexual assault, they will be seen as a perpetrator,” Henneman said. “We’re trying to get males to take a visible stance and be role models, saying ‘I’m not afraid to stand up and say this is something we don’t support.’”
Najee Ritter, a junior majoring in theatre and president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, which will be performing at Take Back the Night, said he believes men should play a more active role in voicing their views on this issue.
“Our presence [at Take Back the Night] shows that we care, we are concerned, and we vow to never engage in these harmful activities,” Ritter said. “Women need to know that we support them, that we love them and because of this, we have made a conscious decision never to hurt them.”
The push for reform across USC has been a major goal for the events associated with Take Back the Night, which Meek hopes will encourage people to start an open discussion about sexual violence.
“These conversations are finally beginning to emerge among college students, so I just hope that Take Back the Night can be seen as a symbol of hope by them,” Meek said.
Previously the administration had recommended fraternities and sororities require at least 50 percent of their members to attend the rally.
Pat Lauer, president of the USC Interfraternity Council, said the groups ultimately decided to forgo this requirement.
“Greek attendance at Take Back the Night shouldn’t be viewed as another item on a checklist for improving our image, but as a legitimate desire that we hope to instill within many of our members to become more aware of and educated about sexual violence,” Lauer said.
The Take Back the Night Rally tonight will include an opening performance by Women’s Theatre Organization, performances by USC MenCare, the Center for Women and Men, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and poet and activist Andrea Gibson. At 8 p.m. there will be a candlelight march through campus.