Amajla Tricic, Assistant News Editor
The Womyn’s Resource Center (WRC), Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE) and the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) came together on Tuesday, April 17, for UC’s Take Back the Night march.
Take Back the Night is a nonprofit organization with a mission to end domestic and sexual violence. The event is held across the country and throughout different college campuses.
UC’s event was held in Strebel Lounge and opened up with several speeches before participants marched throughout campus. Chants and signs that read “No More” were featured in a showing of solidarity with survivors of domestic and sexual violence and demanded an end to rape culture.
Hermina Garic, an administrative intern of WRC, spoke to the crowd before the march about federal policies that directly affect students and the importance of making sure these protections are not rescinded.
“Federal policy really impacts us,” Garic said. “Actively, it looks at what Title IX means and how we can protect each other as students on this campus and the resources that are available to us.”
Maggie Tabone, the president of SAAC, made it clear that the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence was a problem anyone can face and also tackle.
“This is not a female problem, this is not a male problem, this is not a sorority problem, this is not an athlete problem,” she said. “This is a problem we must all unite together to tackle.”
Student Government Association president Ann Ciancia was hopeful that rallying together will bring an effective change and explained that one of the major steps to achieve that is to be an active bystander.
“If you’re out and see a friend or even a stranger in an uncomfortable situation, intervene,” she said. “Your comments or distractions could potentially save the individual from sexual assault and rape.
Cianca will graduate from UC in a month and will be heading to law school as she seeks to devote her future career to helping victims of domestic violence. She also wants to go to Latin America and advocate for the prevention of sexual violence and prosecute domestic violence offenders. She believes that that just “one voice” could make a different to eradicate sexual violence.
“Your pledge (to end domestic and sexual violence) starts today and continues throughout your journey in life,” she said. “It is important that we make women feel comfortable and do not fear the night.”
After the march, participants reconvened in Strebel Lounge where SUNY Cortland football player Kyle Richards shared his story on being an active bystander.
Richards was at a party in Long Island when he heard a scream that seemed to be coming from a girl. He was unsure if she was in danger first until he heard the scream again. When he approached the bathroom of where he heard the screams, the door was locked.
“There was one person missing that I saw earlier at the party, and I didn’t see that person anymore,” Richards said. “She was extremely intoxicated, and I caught her earlier in the night. I’m sure we’ve all had bad nights where we’ve had too much to drink. It’s completely fine, no one is against that.”
He began banging on the door to get it open when he and his friend heard the click of the lock.
“The first thing I saw was a man with his hand around this female’s neck while she was crying and bleeding,” he said. “It was a horrible sight.”
Richards asked the girl what was going on, and she told him that the man was attempting to rape her. In that moment, Richards knew he had to stand up for her.
“I go to confront this man, and I see him outside,” he said. “I ask him what he is doing and he keeps telling me to ‘chill,’ as if what he did was okay. I kept asking what he was doing to her, and I am furious and aggravated because I saw the look on her face, and I saw a female being abused. Next thing I know he pulls out a gun and shoots at me three times. He shot me twice. With my own strength I was able to get inside and the ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital. All I could think about, besides what my mother was gonna think, was ‘Is she (the victim) okay?’”
Richard still thinks about that moment even now, where he often sees her face and how much she was hurting in that moment. He knows he is looked at as a hero, but he “applauds” those like Garic and Tabone who spread awareness.
“Everyone that marched right now is a hero,” he said.
He let the room know that they must do something when they see or hear anything that could threaten the lives of others, whether it is a remark of slipping something into a female’s drink or planning on getting someone drunk in order to take advantage of them.
“It’s a tough conversation, especially for a male, because this is a predominantly male issue,” Richards said. “99 percent of the time when it’s a female victim it’s a male perpetrator and 93 percent of the time when it’s a male victim it’s a male perpetrator.”
Richards said that rape and sexual assault numbers still only drop to 66 percent when there is a bystander, and finds the number unacceptable. He hopes that if everyone unites together to be an active bystander that number will drop to zero.