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Groups Hold Vigil in Protest of Violence Against Women

By Matthew W. Granade

At sundown last night, more than 75 students gathered in the Malkin Athletic Center Quad for a candlelight rally protesting violence against women.

The vigil was the culmination of Take Back the Night Week, a series of events sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) and 10 other student groups concerned about women's issues.

In the words of one participant, the purpose of the rally was "to promote general awareness and to create a more secure, safe and peaceful campus."

The lit candles were a symbol of the evening's goals, according to one of the event's organizers. They were lit "to take back this part of the night for ourselves," said Megan L. Peimer '97, co-president of RUS.

As the crowd seated themselves on the grass, audience members slowly began to come forward to read poetry and to speak.

One speaker suggested that the crowd try taking back the night through laughter.

She wanted "the laughter to explode into the night," and after some reluctance the crowd joined her in laughing.

Stephanie B. Russek '98, a resident of Adams House, spoke about fear. "I am tired of being scared," she said.

In an emotional moment, Peimer read a poem she had recently sent to all her friends to thank them for being supportive. She then revealed that she was the individual who was attacked last month on Linden Street near Adams House.

The speeches were punctuated by long moments of silence which, according to participants and organizers alike, were an integral part of the vigil.

"The silence is as poignant as the speeches," Sheila Warren `98 said.

Many participants were upset by the turn out for the event.

One woman described the attendance as "awful." "I thought there would be way, way more people," she said.

"I wish there were more men," said another participant.

Students did, though, say that the evening was a success.

"I think it's really important for women to feel that they have a safe environment," said one participant.

"That's why it's important for men and women to get together and show their support."

The evening ended with a march to the Lyman Common Room.

Take Back the Night continues today with a performance of Calling it Rape at 2 p.m. in the Adams Upper Common Room.

At 4 p.m., the Bureau of Study Counsel will host a workshop for men whose friends and lovers are survivors of violence. On Thin Ice will perform in a benefit show for a battered women's shelter in the Lyman Common Room from 6 to 9 p.m.

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