Kappa helps women quot;Take Back the Nightquot;

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

Sorority members handed out purple ribbons and wore purple T-shirts displaying the female symbol to promote the message behind the week-long event.,Emerson sorority Kappa Gamma Chi sponsored the ninth annual Take Back the Night last week in order to help raise awareness of domestic violence against women.

Sorority members handed out purple ribbons and wore purple T-shirts displaying the female symbol to promote the message behind the week-long event.

Kappa Gamma Chi raised more than $200 by selling cookie-grams, messages attached to snacks, during the week. The proceeds will benefit Casa Myrna Vazquez, a women's shelter in Boston that helps women and their families escape domestic violence and abuse.

Kappa Gamma Chi members Dunja Simunovic, a junior writing, literature and publishing (WLP) and marketing double major, and Tori Steere, a sophomore communication studies major, organized Take Back the Night events. Steere said that the message of Take Back the Night is important to spread.

"[Domestic abuse victims] feel like they don't have a voice," Steere said. "It's something that we need to bring out. Especially for younger people, so they grow up knowing that it's something that happens and that they can help."

According to Kappa Gamma Chi president Becca Blacker, a senior WLP major, attendance at this year's program almost doubled since last year. The most popular events, the Performance Festival and Mocktails, drew more than 50 people each.

Simunovic said she wanted to draw attention to the issues, so she changed the focus because of low attendance at the last Take Back the Night. This year, events raised domestic violence awareness but also touched upon many women's issues, such as women's empowerment and sexuality.

"There are a lot of emotional issues behind abuse," Steere said. "We wanted to focus on educating yourself and being comfortable with who you are as a person."

Last Sunday's performance festival kicked off the week-long event with various forms of artistic expression, including monologues and mimes. Mia Van De Water, a junior theatre major, stepped on stage naked and performed an original piece that focused on Genesis and Adam and Eve.

Steere said Van De Water did not tell Kappa Gamma Chi members that she would appear naked on stage, and when she finally performed, Steere was surprised.

"It was a different way to express being a woman and being empowered," Steere said. "It was physically showing people [that she was] comfortable in her own skin. It's something we don't see every day, but it was something that made an impact on everyone."

Mid-week, students enjoyed strawberry daiquiris and pina colada mocktails while they watched New York City sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw tackle bad break-ups and add to her multiplying Manolo Blahnik shoe collection at the Sex and the City Marathon.

"I think that there's a growing trend among young women to move away from the June Cleaver image and into the independent women living in the city and experiencing your sexuality and not running away from it," said sophomore WLP and political communications double major Ashley Fetyko, who attended the event. "I think that's something, especially women in our age group, can relate to."

This year's events also covered serious issues. Twenty-two students attended education night to learn more about domestic violence and women's rights.

"I didn't realize how much [domestic violence] affected people on this campus," said Christy Letizia, Kappa Gamma Chi advisor and Coordinator of Off-Campus Student Services. "It's hard to know. You hope that it's not something that anyone who you are working with or are around is experiencing."

Freshman print journalism major Benjamin Buday, a brown belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate, led a self-defense class to teach women how to protect themselves in violent situations on Friday, March 31.

Buday said that learning self-defense techniques is essential when living in a city area.

"I think it's important, because a lot of people go out to parties late at night," Buday said. "People have a false sense of security, especially in this part of the city."

Buday said that techniques do not always work; however, he said they can provide an advantage.

"Knowing how to use your tools: your body, your voice and to be preventive ... is better than just going blank if you're feeling like you're threatened," he said.

Emerson Police Department Lieutenant Scott Bornstein said women should always travel in groups and avoid Boston Common and the Public Garden late at night.

"Crime prevention and keeping yourself safe is just a lot of common sense," Bornstein said. "Awareness and education is very important when it comes to protecting yourself. Especially if you might not be used to the city and you might [have] come from a small suburban town or a rural state."

Steere and Simunovic said that this year's Take Back the Night events had the highest attendance of the past four years.

"We felt really good about it," Steere said. "We thought a lot of people came and took something away from the [events]. We are excited to build upon it for next year."

Amanda Pinto contributed to this report