NEIU’s annually-occurring ‘Take Back The Night’ event was hosted by the Feminist Collective on October 23. The event attracted so many participants that it was moved from SU 214 to the Golden Eagles Room. This year’s Take Back The Night had four guest speakers, who discussed topics such as the patriarchal society we live in and the embedded and accepted a culture of violence that exists in the U.S. today.
The guest speakers at this year’s event were Lisa Bérubé, Instructor of the Sociology Department; Dr. Milka, Assistant Professor of the NEIU Social Work Department; Joanna Snawder, Director of the Women’s Resource Center; and Steven Adler of Rape Victim Advocates. Dr. Milka discussed Dorothy Van Soest and Shirley Bryant’s scholarly article “Violence Reconceptualized for Social Work: The Urban Dilemma” and stated that “Violence is more deeply rooted into the U.S. Culture than this society likes to believe.” Dr. Milka went on to discuss how violence against women is a Judeo-Christian mentality where women are viewed as possessions and submissive. Professor Snawder discussed her experiences working in rape counseling. She shared stories and offered advice about how to strike a balance between helping others and self-help. Using the metaphor of oxygen masks on airplanes, Snawder compared the directives given by flight attendants -to put on your own mask before you help someone else with their mask- with advocacy work. She stressed that people working in social services must take time to care for themselves to maintain a balance and prevent burnout.
The one hundred seats in the Golden Eagles room were filled with students, faculty and community leaders giving rapt attention to the guest speakers. Between speakers, Mcgraw stood at the front of the room, riling the crowd up with empowering chants like “Hey Hey, Ho, Ho Patriarchy has to go!” and “Sexist! Racist! Anti-gay! Don’t you take our night away.” The energy of the room visibly increased as the chants continued. By the end of the first chant break, people were ready to take on the world, and by the third chant break, they were ready to take a stand against abuse, against rape and for the equality of the underrepresented.
The student organizations who put on this event were asked about their goals in being a part of what made this event not only successful but also what motivated them to put it on in the first place. Nergal Malham, President of the Feminist Collective, hoped that everyone who attended the event took away the lessons of the evening and the necessary social tools to eliminate violence in their own community. Janie Mcgraw, Event Coordinator for the GLBTQA (who helped co-sponsor the event) had hoped that the event “exposed dangers, and empowered people to fight back, stand proud and tall, and be brave enough to help the person next to them.” Michelle Lacatus, Treasurer of the GLBTQA, attended the event last year and said the event was and continues to be very liberating and empowering.