Story by Sydney Edelson ’19, photos by Clay Wegrzynowicz

Pards Against Sexual Assault (PASA) recently held Lafayette’s annual Take Back the Night, part of a weeklong initiative to create awareness, education, and engagement on issues of sexual violence, particularly as they apply to the Lafayette community. PASA members Nina Cotto ’19, Reeve Lanigan ’19, and Cristina Usino, assistant director of admissions, delivered keynote speeches in Colton Chapel, followed by a candlelight vigil outside.

Each speaker reminded the College community that all have the responsibility to be active citizens committed to creating a safer culture. They said that silence speaks volumes as “willful ignorance” normalizes toxic language and behavior. They asked those in attendance to think about a day in the life of a survivor.

Cotto and Lanigan called for those in attendance to take a pledge to become Pards Against Sexual Assault and give survivors their power back through the enactment of community standards. They challenged people to think introspectively about what each person would do as a Pard Against Sexual Assault.

Echoing the words of Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, who spoke at Lafayette in September, Cotto asked, “How does our work to prevent sexual violence reflect that mission, which encourages students to examine the traditions of their own culture and those of others; to develop systems of values that include an understanding of personal, social, and professional responsibility?”

While Cotto and Lanigan shared a call to action, Usino asked for increased consciousness through love. She talked about “acts of violence being void of love” and since “love is a synonym for humanity,” we can conquer issues of sexual violence through loving one another and respecting each other’s humanity.

The ultimate message: Don’t be passive; be PASA.

National Movement

Take Back the Night is a national charitable organization whose mission is to “create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness, events, and initiatives.” Founded in the 1960s, Take Back the Night was the first organization that advocated for survivors of sexual violence and violence against women on the world stage. The organization’s events have become a widespread phenomenon on college campuses, and it is estimated that its message has reached more than 30 million people. Pards Against Sexual Assault members Nina Cotto ’19, Reeve Lanigan ’19, Samantha Arnold ’22, and Nahin Ferdousi ’19 organized this year’s Take Back the Night event at Lafayette.

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