whitney guenther

The Sexual Assualt-Free Environment Resource Program (SAFER), an organization on the Cal Poly campus that promotes sexual assault awareness and education, held “Take Back the Night,” at Farmers’ Market Thursday. The event was organized to educate the community about sexual assault.

The point of the night was to let women feel safe at night, said Aimee Williams, a communications studies senior and member of SAFER.

“You know when people ask to take back a word or phrase?” she said. “It is to take back a night that someone was sexually assaulted and get back the moment it happened.”

The annual event is put on by college campuses all over the country. In past years, the event has been held at Mission Plaza and on campus, but the organization wanted to try somewhere else this year, Williams said.

“We held it at Farmers’ Market to include the community,” she said. “This problem is not just campus-wide, it’s community-wide.”

People of all ages walked around Garden Street and looked at the tables that were set up. Several campus and community organizations promoting women’s health and safety had tables arranged along the street; including the Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center (SARP), Code Pink: Women for Peace, Health works, a booth of art work, the National Organization for Women, a “ReMEmber” table and the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

SAFER tried to attract the crowds with a big, red arch of balloons over the entrance to Garden Street, live singers and spoken word artists, Williams said.

The event was very successful, said Sue Murphy, a San Luis Obispo police officer. “It’s always great to educate,” she said. “I’ve worked sexual assault for four years and 95 percent of the cases have involved alcohol. We just need to get the word out there to other ladies.”

Spoken word artists were a selling point of the night. There were three individual performances and a collective act of women together. Christine Foster, Erika Morgan and Skylar Olsen were the three artists. One even had a poem about a woman who was present at the event.

Guest musicians were Breanna Orr and Jill Night; Orr also played earlier that day at Cal Poly’s UU Hour.

“The point of the night is to create a space for men and women to feel safe at night,” said Julia Sinclair, coordinator of both SAFER and the Remember Week events. “It’s about having fun and not worrying about what they usually need to.”

“Usually sexual assault is so sad and talked about so negatively, and it should be,” Williams said, “but tonight is a happy environment, not somber. The idea is that usually sexual assault may happen, but not tonight. This is our night.”

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