Take Back the Night (TBTN) — a week-long event designated to discuss issues of sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence and support and empower survivors — has been eliminated, and the student organization known as Take Back the Night will cease to exist. This year, independent events throughout the academic year with a similar focus will replace the traditional TBTN week.
The change resulted from several conversations between Lacey Filkins, assistant director of new student programming and formerly staff advisor for TBTN, the 2015 TBTN co-chairs Peter Granville ’16 and Christina Franzino ’16 and other administrators. The current and former Title IX coordinators, Meredith Bonham ’92 and Jill Engel-Hellman, director of housing and residential life, also took part in the discussions, according to Filkins. The group made the decision to move to programming throughout the year, without the label of “Take Back the Night” attached.
“We had, not all, but some survivors indicate that they found it to actually be a triggering week versus an empowering week … which is the antithesis of the event itself,” Filkins said. Last year was the first year that the issue of triggering survivors was brought attention. Filkins also cited “dwindling” student participation in “high-impact programs over the week” as another deciding factor.
Programming will continue throughout the year with student organizations like the Sexual Misconduct Advisors, Peer Counselors and Title IX office collaborating to organize events that address topics such as sexual misconduct.
Wesley Davies ’17, co-manager of the Crozier Center for Women, echoed concerns about potentially triggering survivors. Davies also cited a desire to “avoid any enmity caused by the misconception that students aren’t allowed to host parties during the TBTN week.” The lack of registered parties during this week represented a persistent rumor that has circulated the campus in previous years. Davies encouraged organizations looking to collaborate on a traditional TBTN-style event to reach out to the Crozier Center.
Filkins said she thought a Take Back the Night event has existed on campus for about 13 or 14 years, though significant modifications to programming have taken place over time. She said TBTN at Kenyon had no relationship to the national organization, though they may have been related at the event’s inception.
In previous iterations, TBTN included several types of programs to mark the week, such as a carnival-style fair and martial arts self-defense training.
One of the hallmarks of TBTN’s programming was a Speak Out event, during which students could share their experiences with sexual misconduct in front of an audience.
Rachel Arens ’18 said she appreciated the change and understood the reasoning behind it, though she had some reservations. “I just really hope that student [organizations] actually commit to doing their best and bringing these topics up to the whole campus in a positive way,” she said. In Spring 2016, Arens organized a sit-in with other students in the Great Hall of Peirce to raise awareness about sexual misconduct.
Haley Shipley ’17, a Sexual Misconduct Advisor (SMA), was told about the changes to TBTN last Tuesday during an SMA meeting. She said she has been approached by people who felt triggered by TBTN.
“It is important that there is a dialogue on this campus about sexual assault, and that people know that SMAs are here as a resource if something happens and if they get triggered,” Shipley said.
The future of TBTN, however, is not set in stone. “We’ll reevaluate again next year, and see what people want to do,” Filkins said.