Back the Night Seeks to Address Rape Culture Through Performance and Art

Photo courtesy of It’s On Us at UCSD

An upcoming event at UC San Diego, Back the Night, continues the ongoing discussion of sexual assault and attempts to address the roots of rape culture. Back the Night approaches sexual assault prevention not only from the point of view of survivors, but also from the mindset of potential offenders.

It’s On Us has been active since 2014, when the national organization was founded by the Obama-Biden administration. Its main goal is to spread sexual assault awareness through art, expression, and education; the organization primarily works towards stopping sexual assault on college campuses across the country.

Back the Night uses a combination of performance art and discussion to incite a thoughtful reflection on risky situations surrounding sexual assault that will encourage prevention. After the performance, booths will be set up, and each booth will have information on sexual health and safety. It’s On Us at UCSD is not only interested in speaking to victims about their stories, but also to students about what they would do in a situation that could lead to rape. The organization advocates for a safer student culture, inciting action through art and expression.

The sexual assault awareness director for Back the Night, Angelynne Pawaan, and It’s On Us at UCSD’s Vice President of Finance Anna Pelz, emphasized this goal when discussing the mission statement of the organization: “men need to be involved in the conversation, and … it is vital to the discussion that this problem be addressed from their perspective as well.” For It’s On Us, getting people to think about their actions is paramount to preventing assault.

Each person involved in this production has high hopes for the success of the project’s influence and impact. Augusta Norman—one of the performers and also a member of Alpha Phi—says that she feels it has been “humbling to accept and admit that the change [towards a healthier culture] needs to happen.” This event is personal to her due to the high rate of sexual assault in the performing arts. Joining It’s On Us at UCSD has given her more confidence to step in when she recognizes the warning signs and really do her part to prevent assault.

Norman also brought up the toxic culture around consent and sexual assault (in sororities and fraternities alike) that she wants to help change. Her views are echoed by the entire organization, including her fellow cast members Sophia Casas and Rio Dael.

Since many college students are part of some club, fraternity, or sorority, these organizations’ relationships to sexual assault need to be addressed. It is “extremely important that we make the most of our college experience, and that what we take away from college is vital to our actions throughout life,” Dael says.

The play will be held at the Price Center West Ballroom. Doors open at 6:30 pm on November 8 and 9. The performance begins at 7:00pm. Tickets are free for students, but must be reserved. Tickets can be reserved on the Facebook event page.

Other resources for UCSD students on campus are the Women’s Center and SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Center).

Stefany N. Kuipers-Haynie is a Staff Writer for The Triton.

Correction: This article was updated at 9:45 p.m. on November 7 to fix several spelling errors.