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Rally Expresses Concerns Over Take Back the Night Incident

 SUNY Plattsburgh students rallied Tuesday afternoon to express their concerns over slurs and derogatory remarks that were shouted at marchers during the Annual Take Back the Night event last weekend. 

On Saturday night, students at SUNY Plattsburgh participated in the annual Take Back the Night event.  It’s an evening dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence. Survivors often step up to describe what happened to them and support is given to those seeking help.
Take Back the Night includes a march, and as the group passed a fraternity house on Brinkerhoff Street, they were verbally accosted, according to sophomore Joanne Burgos.

Senior Bobby Sheehan was at the march with Joanne.

Junior Natalie Spees from Sharon Springs, New York, is studying political science and gender and women’s studies. She didn’t hear the derogatory comments but is upset it happened.

Standing across the street from the frat house where the comments were shouted and holding signs saying “No More Silence” and “We Won’t Take It Anymore,” administration officials gave an update on the investigation into the incident. University Police Chief Arlene Sabo urged students to report any violence or crimes on the campus. Vice President for Student Affairs Bryan Hartman says it’s an unfortunate incident, but also an opportunity to reinforce efforts to make the campus a safe environment.  

Even if campus officials can determine who made the comments, Hartman says they will not face serious repercussions.

The Plattsburgh story echoes a December 2011 scandal at the University of Vermont, which faced outrage from students and faculty when a fraternity distributed a controversial survey.

Vermont Network Against Domestic And Sexual Violence Executive Director Karen Tronsgard-Scott says it is crucial that college officials talk to students about the impact of the words, not just their intent.

The fraternity under investigation at Plattsburgh State, AXP, issued a statement expressing its deep regrets over the incident.  Fraternity President John Mastronardo writes that the frat is cooperating with campus administration in the investigation and “...respect and support the individuals who participated in Take Back the Night and all of those who have been victimized by sexual assault, rape or harassment. My members are truly sincere in wanting to change the culture that condones violence and harassment....”