The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Students march for Take Back the Night at Pentacrest to call for end to sexual violence

Take Back the Night allowed for sexual violence survivors to find comfort in community support.
Ava Neumaier
Activists march down South Clinton St. during a Take Back the Night protest in Iowa City on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Activists marched to Linn Street and back to end rape culture and amplify the voices of survivors of sexual violence.

Over 100 people marched down the streets of downtown Iowa City on Tuesday night to call for an end to sexual violence on campus. 

The UI’s annual Take Back the Night demonstration held by the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource and Action Center, or WRAC, has become a historic safe space for sexual violence survivors.  

Starting in 1979, the event has grown into a rally and march to speak out against sexual violence on campus.

Students, individuals, and UI staff, including former RVAP employees, united together in solidarity as they shared their experiences with sexual violence and the importance of spreading awareness about sexual violence and UI resources for victims. 

The Pentacrest was quiet as over 15 speakers took turns voicing their experiences with sexual assault and their disappointment with the UI recently announcing its plan to transition the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, or RVAP, into another program. 

The UI announced on April 4 that it would move RVAP and transition its services to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, or DVIP. 

RVAP and DVIP serve the same eight counties and provide them with sexual and domestic assault resources.  

Speakers expressed their emotions through poetry, chants, and tearful speeches. Audience members sat on the Pentacrest lawn and showed their support through hugs and cheering for each speaker.

UI first-year student Johanna Leonard said it is important for people to show solidarity with survivors at Take Back the Night, as it shows the large number of people who care about the issue of sexual violence. 

“I think most universities kind of have a responsibility, especially a liberal arts university like Iowa, to speak out against things and not stay silent,” Leonard said. “I think protests or rallies like this one can do a lot more than it seems.” 

Lorena Perales, a UI second-year student and certified peer educator for WRAC, said the event spreads awareness about not only sexual assault survivors but also the prevalence of sexual violence. 

WRAC offers several resources for UI students, such as counseling, confidential assistance and support, and access to helplines and programs, such as the Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline and Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team

“No matter what type of person you are, no matter what type of identity group you fall under, it’s prevalent for every group here and every person here. And realizing that is really important so that we can get people help and prevent it,” Perales said. 

According to the UI’s most recent Speak Out Now Survey from 2021, over 25 percent of women, 28 percent, and 8 percent of gender-nonconforming individuals reported experiencing some kind of sexual violence since starting their education at the UI. 

Multiple support organizations set up booths at the front of the event, offering candy, informational pamphlets, and support for event members. The organizations consisted of RVAP, Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team, DVIP, and Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity

Morgan Fisher, a certified peer educator for WRAC, said sexual violence is a prevalent issue that the campus has not given a lot of attention to. 

“We hold a space for people to come and talk about their stories and share their experiences and see that what they’ve been through is heard and it’s valid and we understand,” Fisher said. “We really just want to make sure that they know we support them and stand in solidarity with them, and that we’re making an effort to end sexual violence on campus.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.