Your voice has power

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A group of attendees sit on the lawn on central campus.
UNC's Take Back the Night attendees marched along to rally against gender-based violence. Photos by Betty Gebregzabheir.

University of Northern Colorado students and faculty marched to take back the night in the annual rally against gender-based violence on Thursday.

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This was the 25th year of the march to “Take Back the Night” and this year’s theme was “Your voice has power.”

University President Andrew Feinstein attended the event and highlighted the importance of the event during the pre-rally.

“UNC has been bringing to light the issue of violence and gender violence in our community for over 25 years,” Feinstein said. “This is my first time being a part of this wonderful event. I’m so happy to see so many students here and how engaged you are with this event. I look forward to walking with you tonight and being a part of this.”

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Many campus organizations helped put together this year’s march, including fraternity and sorority life; Prevention Education and Advocacy Services; the Counseling Center; the Center for Women’s and Gender Equity; the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center along with many others.

Katrina Rodriguez, the vice president of campus community and climate, was one of the many speakers at the pre-rally.

“When every one of us stands up and demands no more gender violence, your voice — our voice has power,” Rodriguez said. “Sexual violence has no place at UNC. It has not place on the globe. So your voice definitely does count.”

Fleurette King, assistant vice president of equity and inclusion, also had a few words to students about the importance of the march. King highlighted the statistics of sexual assault, specifically that one in four women, one in six boys, and one in five of gender non-conforming individuals would be a victim sometime in their lives.

“Until this is not a part of our society, people need to keep showing up,” King said.

Dorothy Farrel, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Center, discussed gender violence on a local level. SAVA provides direct services for victims of sexual assault, including a 24-hour hotline, individual advocacy, therapy and support groups.

According to Farrel, 946 clients used SAVA’s services last year.

“We have a strong need for volunteers,” Farrel said. “We want to change the culture.”

After the rally, the UNC acapella group Vocal Iron sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day as students lit candles before marching through the campus. Around 300 students participated in the march, which was led by the Brazilian Drum Ensemble and the Sugar Bears Dance Team as they made their way around campus.

Kiara Eaddy, a junior UNC student, was one of the singers in the acapella group and participated in the march afterwards.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity to raise awareness,” Eaddy said. “lt feels like the one time we can walk at night and be safe, which is sad. It’s a nice sort of catharsis of what happens on campus all year long: the issues we’re talking about tonight.”

SAVA’s 24-hour rape crisis hotline can be reached at (970) 472-4200.

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