Students come together on Apr. 10 to make posters in the Keith B. Key Center in the Ohio Union for the Take Back the Night march scheduled for Apr. 11. Pictured: It’s On Us student organization E-board members Nekyla Hawkins, a third-year in social work (left) and Mara Sydnor, a fourth-year in social work (right). Credit: Deborah Eshun | Lantern Reporter

The Multicultural Center’s Women’s Initiative and the It’s On Us student organization co-hosted a poster making event in the Keith B. Keys Center in the Ohio Union Wednesday in preparation for their Take Back the Night rally scheduled for Thursday.  

Take Back the Night is a national event and organization with the goal of ending sexual and domestic violence and providing support to survivors. The Ohio State chapter was reestablished in 2018, after a five-year hiatus.

“I think the main idea is that people are often assulted at night, so it was started to literally take back the night and take back this time where it’s become a danger to women to be out,”  Nekyla Hawkins, a third-year in social work and consent chair of It’s On Us, said.

Take Back the Night events are no stranger to college campuses. Rallies in the United States reach back to the early 1970s where female students at the University of Southern Florida marched with the goal of gaining adequate resources and called for increased safety of the students.

Conversations surrounding sexual assault and treatment are still in the media today, Mia Cariello, second-year in women, gender and sexuality studies, said.

In an open letter to University President Michael Drake, the Collective of Take Back wrote a list of demands intended for Ohio State administrators.

“As we know, the Sexual Civility and Engagement center is no longer here because of how they mishandled cases,” Raven Neal-Jackson, a fourth-year in human development and family sciences and women’s initiative organizer, said. “We want better support for victims and a place where they can go and know that, hey, there are resources for you and that people do stand with you because we have nothing on this campus right now.”

The list of demands also notes the increase of sexual assaults compared to other universities and urges for more representation for LGBTQ faculty and faculty of color in survivor support systems. The letter pushes for improved mandatory in-person consent courses for all first-year and transfer students, the creation of a women’s center on campus and an overall shift in sexual violence culture on campus from students and administrators.

“It is not a few bad actors committing these violations; this is a systemic issue, and while we may not know it, we know perpetrators to be all around us. They are in our workplaces; they are in our classrooms; they are in our administration,” the letter reads.

“We have not been listened to and we demand to be heard. We demand you do better,” the letter concludes.

The organization will deliver the letter to Drake’s office Friday.