On April 10 in Borchuck Plaza, ETSU’s Oasis Program hosted the “Take Back the Night” vigil, an event where anyone could speak up about their encounter with sexual violence and stand in solidarity with victims of sexual violence.
A crowd of thirty people filled up three rows of seats. White candles in clear glasses were arranged under every seat in the audience.
Before the vigil began, people sat on the steps of the Sherrod Library to make signs preparing for the “Take Back the Night” march.
The peaceful splashing of the fountain and chirping of the birds were the only background noise as the audience sat quietly waiting for the speaker to present.
The President of ETSU’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance spoke to introduce the event to the crowd. As she spoke, there was an ASL interpreter by her side.
She started off the event powerfully by stating some alarming facts about assault in America.
“Rape occurs every two seconds, and 90 percent of victims know or trusted their assaulter,” said the President.
With statements like these at the beginning of the event, senior Ally Wells believed that this event was solely educational, but she was pleasantly surprise by the amount healing that occurred instead.
“This event is not what I expected. I thought it would be spitting statistics, but it was therapeutic,” said Wells.
This night’s event was therapeutic because it was focused on people’s voices being heard and helping them heal from their painful experiences.
“Tonight’s event is about being heard and healing,” the SAGA president said.
After the speaker finished the introduction to the event there was a small five-minute march.
Then the healing process began as individuals opened about their sexual and relationship violence experiences. In addition to personal stories, anonymous stories were shared as well.
Kimberly Cox was the first speaker and she courageously stood in front of the podium and shared her story of sexual violence.
After everyone spoke, the crowd lit their white candles and gathered around the fountain for a moment of silence in honor of the victims of sexual violence.
The audience left their lit candles on top of the fountain as they returned to their seats to listen to some poetry. The event closed with a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”
After listening to “Still I Rise,” the audience rose from their seats to grab some free sandwiches, cookies and hot cocoa.
The Oasis Coordinator, Kate Emmerich, was proud of the turnout to this event.
“I think this event went really well,” Emmerich said.
She smiled as she saw a crowd of about forty individuals gathered in the plaza.
“This is the most speakers we’ve ever had.”