Every year at George Mason University, students, faculty and staff come together to participate in “Take Back the Night,” a rally against sexual assault.

This year, “Take Back the Night” will happen on Oct. 4 during Turn Off the Violence Week.

“‘Take Back the Night’ is a rally against sexual assault and domestic abuse,” said Mabinty Quarshie, president of the Feminist Student Organization. “We like to do it in October because October is also Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse Awareness Month and we usually partner up with Sexual Assault Services and they have been a huge help. This year is the 21st consecutive year that we have done ‘Take Back the Night.’”

According to Quarshie, organizing and planning of “Take Back the Night” started last July. There are many student organizations and on-campus service organizations hosting the event, including Sexual Assault Services and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.“The Office of Housing and Residence Life have been extremely helpful. They are buying the T-shirts for us,” Quarshie said.

In an effort to promote the event, posters and flyers will be hung up around campus. A Facebook event has been created to get the word out to as many people as possible and there are also advertisements on the LCD screens in the Johnson Center.

The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the JC North Plaza. From 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., glow sticks and T-shirts will be given out, followed by speeches and performances by people taking part in the event. Afterwards there will be a march around campus which will end at Patriots Lounge, Quarshie said.

“During the rally there will be candles and they will be lighted while people speak, and Greek life is getting that for us,” Quarshie said. “During the event we are trying to have a Twitter live feed where people can tweet during the event and our resident director Tom Dicato should be in charge of the tweeting.”

At the end of the march, pizza will be provided for rally participants. ”We hope we can get a lot of people. The more the merrier,” Quarshie said.

Quarshie said 78 percent of the people who are sexually assaulted know the person who assaulted them. “These aren’t strangers. These are people that are a part of their lives,” Quarshie said. “I want people to know that sexual assault is not something that happens on ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ It is something that affects people’s lives.”

“It especially affects college campuses because our age group has the highest rate for sexual assault,” Quarshie said. “There are a lot of cases that are going unreported and people aren’t being brought to justice. People are still getting away with it, and I think that as college students we need to know how to protect ourselves.”

“People need to be educated about it,” said Quarshie, speaking specifically about sexual assault. “There should be workshops or activities or more events that don’t have to be the same thing as ‘Take Back the Night’ but there needs to be more awareness on our campus.”

“If you remain silent about it, it just keeps on going and affecting people’s lives and no one talks about it and nothing gets done. But when we start talking about it, when we start bringing it into public space, that’s the way we start making a change,” Quarshie said.
“Take Back the Night” is exactly what Mason needs to increase awareness of sexual assault, Quarshie said. “I really hope that people can come if they are not in class. I hope they can come and check it out, and hopefully they take something valuable away from ‘Take Back the Night.’”