Take back the night

By Sarah Mintz

I’ve heard a lot of discussion around Macalester lately about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and sexist slang on campus. However, what is often forgotten in discussion of how to make our Macalester community a safer space is the implication of assault within the larger Twin Cities community. As a Mac student, I sometimes take for granted the fact that I live in a relatively safe community where I would feel comfortable walking alone back from the Link to my dorm at 3 AM. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in this type of environment, and indeed many people live in constant fear of violence in their neighborhoods. According to the US Department of Justice, there were 248,300 rapes, attempted rapes, and sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent year available). That averages out to about 1 sexual assault every 2 minutes. And this does not even include the many assaults that go unreported annually.

But the problem is not merely in sexual attacks alone, but also in the safety of our streets in general. This year marked an increase in attacks on homosexuals in the Twin Cities, the most notable being the attack on Kristen Boyne, a lesbian woman who was beaten unconscious while walking a block away from her Uptown home this past January.

While not quite on the same level, the recent reports of harassment and homophobic verbal assault on Grand Avenue indicate that the attacks come closer to home than we may realize. It is for this reason that I am participating in this Friday’s Take Back The Night Rally, an annual march to reclaim our streets and demonstrate that we will not tolerate living in a community marked by hatred and violence.

What it comes down to, at least for me, is an inherent right to feel safe in the community where you live. It comes down to the right to be able to walk in the night without the threat of sexual assault or violence, the right to not feel threatened simply because you are a woman, or homosexual, or even just an average heterosexual male walking home late.

Please join me this Friday at 4:30 on the campus lawn for the MPIRG Take Back The Night Pre-Rally, from which we will bus over to the capitol for the metro-wide event. This rally is an important step in speaking out against an important issue and beginning a dialogue with community members and legislators about sexual assault in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.