October 2, 2023

On Thursday night, all were welcome to attend an eye-opening open mic experience held in Founders. This event, tagged “Take Back the Night,” provided a platform for those who wanted to share poems, stories, original artwork and personal experiences. Many of the presented works revolved around past trauma or pain and was delivered in the form of spoken poetry, along with visual presentations. Those in charge also allowed participants to submit works via email to be shared anonymously. 

Although this event is very special to Wittenberg students, Take Back the Night is also held in colleges across the country. The name is derived from the unsettling feelings and frightful experiences that women tend to have when walking alone at night, especially on campuses. It was brought to our campus through the cooperation of Student Senate, Shades of Pearl and the Womyn’s Center. The Womyn’s Center is an organization located in Shouvlin 103 and provides help and support for all students.

Refreshments and information were provided by the Womyn’s Center via a table set up at the edge of Founders. Here students were able to learn where they can go for help, and were also able to pick up gear such as hats, stickers and wallets. Everyone that attended was given a goodie bag containing items for sexual wellness, information and basic items such as magnets and stickers. Those who shared their stories were asked to remain in Founders and received free blankets. 

This night was very emotional for those involved, as well as those who were simply there to listen. The stories shared contained topics ranging from the hardships of being born in your own skin to dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault. Throughout the night, the sense of empowerment seemed to increase with every presentation. Those involved worked hard to ensure that those sharing were in a welcoming and encouraging environment, which was felt by all. 

Rita Obenson (’22), a student here at Witt, presented in the form of spoken word. Throughout her reading, it was apparent that the words she had written produced emotion within her. She spoke with a matching intensity to what the words conveyed: 

“I write for those who write no more…I will be their voice…we will be heard.” 

These words raised cheers and applause from the audience and left most everyone in the room with a sense of passion and community. A common theme that was noticed in the presentations was that many presenters emphasized that it’s okay to not be okay. This is something that many people don’t hear very often and can help those who feel helpless. 

This event carries a large sense of unity within it, and shows students that they are not alone. Many presenters wrestled with the idea of talking in front of people, but in the end, many believed it was worth it. Being completely vulnerable while receiving endless support allowed those that shared to feel as if they had accomplished something amazing.

As Valentin Polanco (’23) put it, “I felt so free—as if there was no longer any weight on my shoulders.” 

The Womyn’s Center is an organization located in Shouvlin 103 and provides help and support for all students. More information can be found on the Wittenberg website. 

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