Event to raise awareness for street harassment

Campus Editor and Campus Editor

To Kelsey Klein, Take Back The Night is more than an event, it’s life-changing.

“It’s something unusual that women don’t usually get to do,” Klein said. “Women don’t usually get to be out at night in large groups without being harassed.”

The event is about raising awareness and speaking out against street harassment and date rape, said Carly Toepfer, president of Feminist Organization Raising Consciousness and Empowerment, which is hosting the event.

“[These are] things that make women afraid to go out at night,” Toepfer said.

Take Back The Night will take place Friday at 6 p.m. and it begins in the Union Ballroom, Klein said.

Klein, a senior, will be attending the event for the third time this year.

The event will show that women don’t like to be harassed at night, Klein said.

“It shows that we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” she said.

“We can talk on a personal level about sexual harassment and assault, but it’s very important to be visible about saying it’s not okay,” Klein said. “The group cohesiveness really helps get the message out.”

Toepfer said some women may claim street harassment is a compliment, but she disagrees.

“It’s not; it can be scary depending on what they’re saying to you,” she said. “It’s something that affects a lot of people.”

The event will start with a rally in the Ballroom. At the rally, student organizations will set up tables and there will also be entertainment, Toepfer said.

The participants will then march around campus and downtown, ending at the Women’s Center in Hanna Hall.

This year, there will be three rooms in the Women’s Center where people can speak out about their experiences, Toepfer said.

In the past there have been one or two rooms, but this year there will be three: one for women, one for men and a gender neutral room.

“They can go in and talk about how the night was,” Toepfer said. “It’s a pretty personal conversation between a bunch of us, everything is confidential.”

The event is mostly to raise awareness, but it’s also for women.

“It’s a chance for women to go out and rally and feel powerful for at least a little while and march as a group in solidarity,” Toepfer said. “[Street harassment] is something that takes agency away from women.”

The event is also an opportunity to build community, Klein said.

“Women may be aware it’s happening, but may not be aware it happens to women other than us,” she said. “College campuses are one of the biggest places where sexual harassment and assault happen. One in four college women are assaulted during their college career.”

Junior and FORCE Community Outreach Chair Allie Lahey said she thinks these issues are especially important on campus and in Bowling Green.

“There have been a lot of reports of sexual assault in the past few years here,” she said. “When I walk downtown at night I feel threatened, it can be intimidating. A lot of my friends have experienced street harassment in Bowling Green.”

Lahey said she wants people to not only think about the issues Friday night, but all the time in their everyday life.

Sexual assault and harassment are a big issue for people of college age, Klein said.