Take back the night
Plattsburgh State students, staff and community members joined in a rally on April 30 to empower survivors of sexual violence and to demand accountability after the annual Take Back the Night march was interrupted by negative remarks from a group of young men on Brinkerhoff Street April 27.
Nearly 200 students and community members gathered on the Redcay lawn on Brinkerhoff Street to support empowerment of victims of sexual assault.
They were also there to protest a few members of the AXP Fraternity who, according to participants in the Take Back the Night march, yelled “sluts” at the participants as they walked by the fraternity on Brinkerhoff Street.
“They were yelling sluts, sluts,” said Simona Sharoni, chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at SUNY Plattsburgh. “It was so loud it drowned over our own chant, there were 200 of us and maybe three of them.”
Members of the fraternity have denied saying anything, though the fraternity’s president later released a statement saying the members regretted something like that had happened.
Sharoni said prior to the derogatory remarks two freshman students who had been sexually assaulted while at a party had just shared their stories with the group.
“We take our march down the streets near fraternities because of the environment after large parties and drinking, after people clear out and young women are vulnerable, intoxicated and alone and I’ve heard about many cases from my students that turn out this way (sexual assault),” Sharoni said. “Some of the survivors of rape were so upset they could not continue the march.”
After the march, news of the statements made from the fraternity spread around campus and the community, with social media helping get the word out. Sharoni said they wanted to hold a rally to bring closure to the march they were unable to complete.
“We had about 200, many rape survivors, who had not come to Take Back the Night come to the rally with signs; they were very brave,” Sharoni said.
“Most rapes are not reported because the woman becomes the one on trial, she is afraid of being called a slut, tormented, have her past put on display. When these men called out ‘sluts’ they affirmed that. We need to change the rape culture, we shouldn’t be teaching women and little girls how not to be raped but teach men and potential offenders how not to rape and abuse.”
Lynda Ames, SUNY Plattsburgh Affirmative Action Officer, said her officer primarily deals with cases of sexual assault. Though she couldn’t comment on the statements made at the march, she said in general when an allegation comes forward her office investigates to see if there was a criminal violation.
“Here we aim to educate and create a healthy atmosphere on campus for students, we put out the message every year,” Ames said. “I can tell you the number of rapes on campus and across the country are down but I can also tell you that most rapes are not reported.”
Ames said the college will be conducting its own investigation into the matter.