Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hundreds at AU condemn sexual assault in “Take Back The Night”

Inter-Fraternity Council VP apologizes for anti-WI remarks

The beating of Brazilian drums echoed through campus as Take Back the Night participants raised awareness for sexual violence on April 9.

Women’s Initiative hosted the event that began with a performance by Batala, an all-women’s drumming group, in the amphitheater and ended with a vigil and testimonials in the Kay Spiritual Life Center.

“In terms of our big events,” said Carmen Rios, the director of Women’s Initiative, “what I really like about Take Back the Night is that we talk about something that needs to change and we take the survivors and give them the ability to speak.”

Before the event, Executive Vice President of AU’s Inter-Fraternity Council Brendan Bargmann stirred up controversy when he posted on Facebook that Take Back the Night marchers were “inexplicably angry women.” He also urged people to call Public Safety and file noise complaints.

“Every year there’s someone speaking out against the event or reacting about it negatively in a way that’s not what we’re about,” Rios said.

When later asked about his Facebook post, Bargmann apologized.

“I want to get across that this is an accident due to my stupidity, a nexus between me making a bad joke and ignorance and I just feel terrible about it,” Bargmann said.

He said his original post was only meant to joke about the noise of the drumming and was not meant to “debase the whole point of what the night was.”

Bargmann has since stepped down, according to AUIFC President Amory Brandon said in an op-ed to The Eagle.

Nicole Dashiell, a freshman in School of International Service, said she attended the event to show her support for victimized women worldwide.

“No one’s taking rape seriously,” she said. “A lot of people on my floor were making fun of us saying it was a buzz kill, but I think it’s important to go.”

Rios said approximately 300 people attended the event. Participants marched from the amphitheater to Southside, finally coming to a stop on the Quad in front of Kay.

Energized by Batala’s beats and Rios’ words, Dashiell joined hundreds of other supporters in shaking maracas, chanting, “No more silence, no more violence,” and holding signs that said, “Yes means yes and no means no.”

The event concluded just as it started to rain. Take Back the Night supporters paused before the steps of Kay, passed around candles and listened to the AU all-female a capella group Treble in Paradise sing “Stand by Me.”

“I was pleasantly surprised by [Take Back the Night],” Bargmann said after the event. “I got into it and the message behind it.”

Laura Kiefer, co-director of WI’s Stopping Violence Against Women Department, concluded the event by saying, “There is this community to support me. It is life changing... I’m going to stand up for what I believe and I’m going to take back the night.”

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