ERIN GANNON ’19
On Tuesday, April 18, Students Encouraging Consensual Sex (SECS) hosted Take Back the Night in Vernon Social Center. The goals of the event are to provide a platform for survivors of sexual assault, to support them through speech and art and to raise awareness about sexual assault and its impact on our community.
The event began with introductions by the night’s two emcees, Russ Pierson ’17, who co-coordinated the event with Amber Stevenson ’18, and Whitney Gulden ’16, who coordinated the event during her time at Trinity.
The hosts began by pointing out representatives of on-campus resources such as the Counseling Center, the Women and Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC), and the Sexual Assault Response Team S.A.R.T among others who were in the audience at the event. They also cautioned the audience that sensitive subject matter would be covered over the course of the night.
After the video, the hosts introduced The Trinitones, the first group in the series of performances and speakers that followed. Next was Jacqueline Kromash ’19 and Isabel Sanchez ’20, who took turns reading and interpreting the monologue “Blueberry Hill” by Christine House.
President Joanne Berger-Sweeney then delivered some remarks regarding the event. She expressed her gratitude to SECS for inviting her to Take Back the Night, described the necessity for the event, and offered to be in support of the cause as long as the need for the event existed. Berger-Sweeney mentioned that in 2014, shortly after she assumed her current role, the first task force she pulled together was one for the prevention of sexual misconduct on campus. She thanked Connecticut First Lady Cathy Malloy for her attendance at Take Back the Night, and ended by stressing the importance her administration placed on providing support for students in this context. Following President Berger-Sweeney was a performance by The Dischords.
Connecticut’s First Lady Cathy Malloy then took the stage for her keynote speech. Before speaking, she donned a Take Back the Night t-shirt, and commented on the fact that when she was in college, sexual assault was not discussed as it is today. “You never thought about the perpetrator,” she said. She spoke to the increase of awareness across campuses all over the country, especially in the past several years. She called for mutual support among peers at Trinity, and stressed the importance of the removal of the statute of limitations on sexual assault in the state of Connecticut, a comment which garnered applause from the audience.
Following First Lady Malloy were the final three performances of the evening. The Quirks took the stage and were followed by a performance by members of the Trinity College Dance Company, Molly Thoms ’17, Elise Lasky ’17, and Jacqueline Kromash ’19. The final performance of the evening was by The Accidentals.
After the last performance, the emcees introduced the final segment of Take Back the Night – a portion of the event called “Speak Out,” which was open to anyone who wished to share. Several participants took the stage and shared their own experiences with sexual assault, reading original poems and offering original interpretations on famous poems, in addition to participants who offered their vocal support to survivors.
Take Back the Night was ended by a thank you to the audience from the emcees and a performance by alum Brandon Serafino ’15, who now works in Hartford as a recording artist. He performed several original songs accompanied on guitar by Mali Thwala ’17.