LEWISTON — The University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College Campus Safety Project recently held their first “Take Back the Night” rally day on April 24. The event included advocates, faculty, staff, students, local law enforcement and public citizens.
The first event of this type in the United States for which there has been documentation was in Philadelphia after the murder of young microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed by a stranger a block from her home while walking alone. The slogan “Take Back the Night” was introduced by Anne Pride in 1977 from a memorial she read at an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Officially starting the rally with an opening speech was Clara Porter, coordinator to the USM Campus Safety Project for Interpersonal Violence Prevention, which is a university-wide effort to promote healthy relationships while preventing and responding to Interpersonal Violence.
USM LAC Dean Joyce Gibson provided welcoming remarks to the guest speakers and gatherers. The moderator for the rally was Campus Safety Project peer educator Lindamarie M. McDonald who is a senior in the Leadership & Organizational Studies program. Lewiston Mayor Robert E. Macdonald was the guest speaker who delivered an emotional message while making it clear that “sexual violence is 100 percent unacceptable."
Director of community education, Kelley Glidden from Safe Voices and client service coordinator Sarah L. Wood from the Sexual Assault Crisis Center shared how each agency provides services for those who have been violated and/or affected by sexual assault or domestic violence. USM-alumni-graduate and coordinator for the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity Sarah Holmes shared how the LGBTQA community is affected by sexual assault and gave voice to those who could not be present.
USM faculty member Linda Pfaffinger, who is also the executive director of “All About Prevention,” gave a moving testimonial on how she fought back on sexual assault. There was time set aside for "Breaking the Silence,” which allowed anyone to share how sexual assault had affected their own lives. Bridget Goyette, president of the Student Government Association at USM LAC and keynote speaker at the rally, was recognized by Clara Porter and Sarah L. Wood for her outstanding efforts to ensure that the Campus Safety Project had a presence on campus.
Along with the rally the campus held other events during the month of April including “Consent Day” and the USM Clothesline Project, which allowed participants to remember friends and loved ones affected by domestic violence.