The Women’s Center choir sang “Praying” by Kesha at the Coffee Hag for their Take Back the Night event Tuesday.
There was a short schedule of speakers at the beginning of the event. After that there was the performance of the song, followed by an open mic for anyone who wanted to talk about being a victim or survivor. Afterwards, a march took place for victims and survivors as well as supporters.
The Violence Awareness and Response Program planned this event with help from a small Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee that was made up entirely of students who did a lot of work getting people involved in this as well as other events that took place during April.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s national theme is “Embrace Your Voice,” which pairs well with the women’s center choir singing at the Coffee Hag.
“I think it is perfect. I think it is definitely one way that you can embrace your voice,” said Laura Schultz, the assistant director of VARP. “This is about community and coming together and embracing our voices and making this collective sound.”
The group performed the song “Praying,” a piece written by Kesha detailing her experience with sexual assault and its impact on her as well as others.
“It is a really beautiful [song], kind of a processing of healing from sexual assault,” Schultz said. “The way that she tries to word this is to communicate to her assailant that ‘I hope you are thinking about this and I hope you are asking for forgiveness and realize the damage you have done.’ ”
The position of assistant director for the VARP has been around for about 10 years. Take Back the Night has been going on each year during that time, but the event actually originates back in the 1970’s. There were many of these events held around Mankato from the 70’s to the 80’s.
“This is a supportive and empowering event put on by our students and for our students,” Schultz said. “It is still needed to this day. I meet with approximately 150 and 175 students who are victims and survivors every year. These individuals have a safe place in my office or anywhere else where they would like to meet with me, and there are various other places on our campus where they can feel safe and supported.”
Schultz encouraged everyone, from survivors to supporters, to come to this event.
“Last year we did the choir for the first time and that was just something that I had wanted to do for a while,” Schultz said. “With the women’s march on Washington D.C. last year there was a song called ‘I Can’t Keep Quiet,’ and it propelled me forward to say this is the time. We had such a great time with it last year that I wanted to bring it back.”
Take Back the Night occurs annually and is expected to occur again in April 2019.
Schultz added that if there are people who happen to be reading this who want to speak with someone, she is a confidential advocate who the can meet with in her office or anywhere on campus. If they are reading this, know they are not alone, what happened to them is not their fault and she is here for them.