UNC takes back the night

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Crowds gathered at UNC's Take Back The Night event
Crowds gathered at the Garden Theatre for UNC's Take Back The Night event. (Mackenzie Eldred/The Mirror)

UNC held the 24th annual “Take Back the Night” march and rally at 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Garden Theatre. The event was held to support sexual assault and gender-based violence survivors. The theme for the rally was “We believe you.”

“Take Back the Night” included several guest speakers, such as Vania Kacir of the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center (SAVA), Colleen Sonnentag of the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance, Fleurette “Flo” King of the UNC Equity and Inclusion and Angie Makomenaw of the Assault Survivor and Advocacy Program (ASAP).

Kacir, a bilingual therapist for SAVA, told the audience to believe and support the victims of sexual assault.

“I’m here to talk about how crucial and important it is to believe survivors,” Kacir said. “You listen with empathy. You listen to be present.”

Sonnentag, an investigative coordinator and trainer, presented her speech on how to make every community healthy and safe. She referred to changing the general beliefs of the people in our environment as “climate change.”

“We can engage to make UNC a safe place by being an active bystander, caring about our fellow bears and utilizing the resources on campus,” Sonnentag said. “UNC is committed to decreasing the number of sexual assaults on campus.”

UNC’s Assistant Vice President for Equity and Inclusions, Flo King, played several scenario games with the audience in order to explain how everyone needs to get consent.

“I just wish we could stop this madness,” King said. “I would love for all bears to get their education and work here without dealing with that experience.”

Angie Makomenaw, a confidential employee for ASAP, discussed a resource available on UNC’s campus. ASAP is a confidential program that offers services to victims and survivors of sexual assault. They are located in Cassidy Hall, with a 24-hour hotline. The office hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The rally was concluded with UNC’s acapella group, Vocal Iron, performing the song “Quiet” on stage. The audience lit their candles during this performance.

The march then began, and the audience chanted several sayings, including “no more violence, stop the silence,” and “2, 4, 6, 8, stop the violence, stop the hate.”

The march also featured an ally pledge: “I pledge not to be violent to myself, my friends, my family, my partner or anyone else. I will stand up for other people and make peace.”

Aims Community College, the Counseling Center, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Gender & Sexual Resource Center, Prevention Education & Advocacy Services, SAVA, the Women’s Resource Center and the UNC Police Department all participated in the planning committee.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21 in the Women’s Resource Center, survivors will speak out and give their stories, with a “Break the Silence” theme. There will also be a “Boom” documentary at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18 at the Kress Theatre. This theater production is about human trafficking and features a UNC alumni.

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