Sexual assault survivors to speak at rally

Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 5, 2001

The 22nd annual Take Back the Night march and rally tonight comes at a time of heightened awareness on the issue of rape after an alleged sexual assault in West Quad Residence Hall earlier this week.

Take Back the Night, jointly sponsored by the Ann Arbor Coalition Against Rape and University Women Against Rape, provides a forum for hundreds of survivors, activists and supporters from the community to demand an end to sexualized violence. The rally begins on the Diag at 7 p.m.

"Our emphasis this year is that 80 percent of all rapes that occur are date rapes," said Anne Marie Lock, an LSA junior and publicity chair for University Women Against Rape.

Lock said the group is aware of the incident that occurred Tuesday in West Quad, when one of two men who entered a female student"s room reportedly assaulted the student, but the original program for the rally will proceed with no modifications and the incident would not be intentionally discussed.

Lock said two survivors of sexual assault will speak at the rally. The keynote speaker will be Denise Diggs-Taylor, education director at the University"s School of Social Work.

"I am going to be talking about the history of women of color and what it is like to be a survivor," said Diggs-Taylor, who attended her first Take Back the Night in 1989.

She said she also plans to address the issue of providing more services for minorities.

She said there has not been a large minority turnout at past Take Back the Night events but added that it is important to make sure minorities are represented.

"If you can"t address your own biases first, then you can"t address how you feel about other groups," Diggs-Taylor said.

Following the rally on the Diag, Take Back the Night participants will take to the streets and march in protest of sexual violence.

Organizers said the event is open to anyone who has experienced sexual victimization and to supporters who wish to add their voices to the demonstration against sexual violence.

Last year was the first time men were invited to join the march.