Ferris State University Students ‘Take Back The Night,’ Raise Sexual Violence Awareness

“If a couple of people show up and we do the full walk, then someone’s going to get the message,” said Marley Tucker, a junior at Ferris State University.

Only a lot more than a couple of people put on their walking shoes Monday night in Big Rapids to raise awareness about the shocking number of sex crimes that happen on college campuses.

Every year, students at Ferris State University join together to march the campus, raising their voices against crimes that often go unheard — and unpunished.

Their message is adding to a nationwide dialogue that could change how sexual assault is handled on campus.

“You never know what happens in your life and it’s good to know you have people in your corner,” Tucker says.

It’s a movement called “Take Back the Night.”

The message students carried with them across Ferris State’s sidewalks.

“We’re coming together as a community to say that we won’t tolerate sexual violence, that we are going to standby people who have been affected by it and that we are going to say in a loud voice that that is not a part of our values,” says Kevin Carmody, FSU Title IX coordinator.

About one-in-four women and one-in-eight men experience sexual assault, according to FSU’s Title IX coordinator.

“It’s a crime that lives in silence,” Carmody says. “It’s one of the most under-reported crimes ever and so it is difficult to pin.”

“No matter who the person is, when you have this many people come together, you realize how many people it affects,” says Nick Hadley, vice-president of the Social Work Assocation in FSU.

The march comes weeks after US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed replacing Obama-era Title IX regulations, changing the way assaults would be handled on campus.

“The concern here is reacting to sexual assault but, at the same time, respecting the due process right of those accused,” says Jason Elmore, Wexford County Prosecutor. “On college campuses, on whether or not somebody remains at the college, isn’t always afforded the same due process rights that the criminal justice system is.”

It’s a message students hear and hope others use to support those who need it.

I’m boldened by the fact that Secretary DeVos takes this seriously,” Carmody says. “I’m concerned that she feels that universities aren’t handling this as well as we need to be.”

“You are not alone and it’s okay to stand up and ask for help and to speak out,” Hadley says.