Virginia Tech community gathers for annual “Take Back the Night” rally and march
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Sexual violence is a topic that’s been in the spotlight at Virginia Tech since the fall 2021 semester. Virginia Tech Police crime logs show reports of rape nearly tripled from 2020 to 2021.
Thursday night, more than one hundred students and leaders in the Blacksburg community, including Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith, gathered for the annual “Take Back the Night” rally and march.
“Tonight is kind of a testament to this community agreement that we need change,” said Carolina Bell, President of United Feminist Movement at Tech.
Change is what the Virginia Tech community continues to strive for when it comes to students feeling safe.
“As students we need to feel protected, we need to feel safe,” said student Kyra Bray.
“A big step, first step, in moving forward is having our university officials communicate with us more with these issues, really show us that they care.” said student Jacob Dullack.
As survivors shared their stories, roars of claps were heard in the room and an overall message was shown that the Virginia Tech community is there to support each other.
The university has been ramping up its efforts to address sexual violence this semester, but some students are frustrated with the speed of those efforts.
“About two weeks ago the work group made their halfway-through-the-semester update to the president, but this wasn’t released to the community. I think it’s really important that if we’re working towards transparency and accountability, these updates should be released to the community and these updates should be publicly available,” said Bell.
There were a handful of members on the work group present, including Virginia Tech Police Chief Mac Babb. The university has made it clear they stand with students, but solving this issue will take time.
“It’s important to do the work to make sure the community is aware the work is being done to show progress. But also recognize there’s not an end point. We’re always going to have to refresh the ideas, refresh the message.”
That message is clear: this is an issue and the community needs to work together to fix it.
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