By Grace Walker

For The Diamondback

Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault.

The University of Maryland’s CARE to Stop Violence office held its annual Take Back the Night and Clothesline Project events on McKeldin Mall Wednesday to raise awareness about sexual assault.

The events, hosted during sexual assault awareness and prevention month, were intended to highlight the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.

Take Back the Night is a national event focused on uplifting the voices of sexual assault survivors, according to Grace Boudreau, this university’s outreach and assessment coordinator at the Campus Advocates Respond and Educate to Stop Violence office.

Each year, Take Back the Night has a different focus. This year, the event focused on fighting drug-facilitated sexual assault.

During the event, students could enter a raffle for prizes, receive resources and learn more about how to help victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault. Raffle proceeds were sent to the Victim Assistance Fund, according to the event’s website.

Several community members emphasized that drug-facilitated sexual assault is often misunderstood and misrepresented.

Cortney Fisher, a lecturer in the criminology and criminal justice department, said one of the misconceptions about drug-facilitated sexual assault is that it only applies to involuntary intoxication.

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Drug-facilitated sexual assault also includes individuals voluntarily drinking alcohol, Fisher said.

Like Fisher, Natalia Isabal, a CARE peer advocate, said alcohol can be included in drug-facilitated sexual assaults.

“A lot of people don’t take into [account] that alcohol does count as a drug and is part of drug-facilitated sexual assault when someone uses alcohol to further inebriate someone,” Isabal, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, said. “We like to bring light to that.”

The civil rights and sexual misconduct office received more than 250 reports of sexual misconduct in the 2022-23 school year. Received reports last year more than doubled from reports in 2020-21, according to the office’s website.

At the Clothesline Project event, organizers wrote messages in support of sexual assault survivors on shirts and hung them on clotheslines along McKeldin Mall.

“We believe you,” one shirt read.

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Boudreau said the event is a way to visually demonstrate the impact of sexual assault on this community.

Medhnaa Saran, a CARE office outreach advocate, said the event was intended to share the stories of sexual assault survivors.

“It’s just like a free canvas for all,” Saran, a sophomore fire protection engineering and information science major, said. “We just want to spread awareness about it, just show that it happens everywhere, sexual assault and rape happen everywhere.”

The shirts were written by community members over the past 15 years, Saran added.

Many of the older shirts still apply to the community today, Anna Kochkin, another CARE outreach peer, added.

“We have shirts from 2010, 2007, and all of those sentiments on them still ring true. They still apply,” Kochkin, a senior psychology major, said. “Truth hurts. It’s painful and it’s a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do.