First Friday Raises Sexual Violence Awareness

By Klarize Medenilla

Internationally known Take Back The Night made a return to Cal Poly Pomona on Friday evening. Hosted by the Violence Prevention and Women’s Resource Center in conjunction with Associated Students, Inc., TBTN is an all-encompassing event that raises awareness for all forms of sexual violence and abuse.

Over 100 students gathered at the Bronco Commons to participate in the First Friday event, which was organized in three main components: a rally, a march and a speak out.

As a part of the Community Resource Fair, several local agencies and on-campus groups dedicated to eliminating sexual violence set up tables to provide information about their organizations.

The rally began with a live musical performance from Sheilas Take A Bow, a local all-female The Smiths/Morrissey cover band. After, several students and guest speakers shared their stories in form of impassioned speeches, spoken word and poetry.

The keynote speaker was Steve Moriarty, drummer of the Seattle-based punk band The Gits. Moriarty spoke about Mia Zapata, the band’s lead singer, who was raped and killed in 1993. Moriarty stressed the impact that survivors can have by coming forward and sharing their experiences.

“It’s important that we speak our piece and say something that [has impact], because it comes from the heart and is an emotional testament as opposed to a statistic or a rule or a law,” said Moriarty.

Marina Wood, CPP’s interim coordinator of violence prevention education, led a candlelight vigil in memory of victims who lost their lives to sexual violence. Wood followed with a statement about the importance of changing society’s current attitude about rape and assault.

“Violence prevention means changing the culture, from a rape culture to a culture of consent, from a culture of silence to one of support,” said Wood. “It means transforming the mixed messages and the restrictive gender roles into messages about healthy, equal relationships with ourselves and with each other, regardless of gender, gender expression or sexuality.”

The volunteers then led a protest march that took the crowd to the Residence Halls. As they marched, their chants echoed throughout the campus. “What do we want? Safe streets! When do we want them? Now!” were among their chants.

The night ended in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Minor with a Survivor Speak Out. Survivors of abuse were given the opportunity to share their stories in a judgment-free support circle.

“I think it’s important to see the sense of community around these really important issues that don’t really get talked about,” said Nayely Castrell_҄Ðn, a gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies student and peer educator at the VPWRC. “I know assault of any kind is a hard subject. It triggers a lot of people, but I think it’s really powerful to see the community out here that’s supporting its survivors and the friends and families of its survivors.”

TBTN is an international organization, with origins dating back to the 1960s in Europe. It began as a council for women from various European nations to discuss women’s safety on the streets.

The organization found its way to the United States in the 1970s. TBTN began hosting events in schools, crisis centers and shelters.

Apart from the VPWRC and First Friday, other local crisis centers co-sponsored TBTN, including Project Sister Family Services and House of Ruth.

This was the first time since 2012 that CPP hosted TBTN. Mayra Romo, coordinator at the VPWRC, hopes that new hires and help from ASI will help to establish TBTN as a yearly event at CPP.

“We haven’t been able to do this program because of lack of staffing in our office, so now that we have more staff, we’re able to have someone dedicated to violence prevention work,” said Romo. “This became a First Friday event, so the collaboration with ASI definitely is very helpful in bringing awareness to students to participate.”

First Friday Raises Sexual Violence Awareness

Leanna Ahmed / The Poly Post

First Friday Raises Sexual Violence Awareness

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