The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

PASA demonstrates resilience through annual Take Back the Night

Take+Back+the+Night+featured+the+annual+clothesline+project.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Carly+Johnson+24%29+
Take Back the Night featured the annual clothesline project. (Photo courtesy of Carly Johnson ’24)

This week, Pards Against Sexual Assault held its annual Take Back the Night, an international event aimed at ending all forms of sexual violence.

The event, which saw weeklong programming on sexual violence, operated differently due to the resignation of student advocacy and prevention coordinator Katy Bednarsky this past summer.

“Without having that administrative support, we had to put a lot more effort in on our end and really advocate for ourselves with getting these events done,” Hope Boldizar ‘25, the prevention group’s outreach and engagement chair, said.

Bednarsky served as a confidential resource for students who were victims of sexual or domestic abuse and violence. Since Bednarsky’s departure, Pards Against Sexual Assault co-president Sarah Murphy ‘24 has felt a shift in the atmosphere on campus. 

“Katy Bednarsky resigned over the summer and that definitely left a big void for survivors, students who do sexual assault prevention work and also a big noticeable absence in the campus dialogue of sexual assault,” Murphy said. “Students are kind of feeling lost with nobody to turn to.”

Take Back the Night has existed for 30 years. Pards Against Sexual Assault views the event as a chance to establish a culture of student support in this despite the absence of administrative support. 

“Even if we don’t have that solid administrative support at this current time, we can at least sort of mimic that with student conversation and student support,” Murphy said. 

The week kicked off with a 5K run on Sunday to build momentum for the rest of the program’s events. The high energy from the over 50 attendees set the tone for a week of student support and acceptance. 

“We really just try to, by any means necessary, create a communal, collective environment where we are all banding together to support survivors,” Murphy said.

Following traditions of years past, Pards Against Sexual Assault held its clothesline project, during which survivors and allies wrote a message showing their support for victims of sexual violence on t-shirts. Participants chose from seven t-shirt colors, each pertaining to a particular experience that has to do with sexual violence, from relationship violence to domestic abuse. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, the shirts were hung up in Farinon on a clothesline to catch people’s attention as they walked in. 

“It’s hung up so you can’t really ignore it,” Boldizar said.

Pards Against Sexual Assault also held a fundraiser at Mojo 516 Cafe during which 10 percent of the proceeds went to the Crimes Victim Council, a Lehigh Valley organization that works to provide a safe place for survivors of domestic and intimate partner abuse.

On Thursday in Colton Chapel, the group welcomed back last year’s keynote speaker, Brittany Piper, a sexual assault survivor and wellness coach. The night wrapped up with a candlelight vigil meant to create space for survivors of sexual violence. 

“We can’t eradicate sexual violence until we acknowledge its existence,” Murphy said.

Pards Against Sexual Assault looks to make college a safe space for all even though this year’s Though Take Back the Night has ended.

“When I came into college and I saw the prevalence of those things, I didn’t want to just sit there and just watch it happen and watch people I know go through those things,” Boldizar said.

Murphy also spoke to the culture that Pards Against Sexual Assault hopes to create.

“Even more so this year, we want to ensure that the programming acts as sort of a response to the vulnerability that students on campus are feeling and really just emphasizing that student support for one another,” Murphy said.

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About the Contributor
Bernadette Russo, Culture Editor
Likes trees and hates writing bios.

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