A few weeks ago, the Caltech Feminist Club hosted our third annual Take Back the Night event. Take Back the Night exists to support victims of sexual violence. It is held around the country every year, and often involves a rally, a candle lit vigil, and a march. Our event was a little smaller than usual, with about 30 people in attendance, so we didn’t hold a march. Instead, we organized a night where students and other Caltech community members can share their stories of encountering sexual violence and listen to those of others.
We set up in the backyard of the Alumni House, which is a single-family home on the edge of campus that the Alumni Association uses for office space. The backyard is very big, and gorgeously landscaped, and many events are held there. We borrowed tables, table cloths, and folding chairs from the Caltech Center for Diversity (CCD), and received funding for dinner for all of our guests from the Caltech Title IX office.
The Feminist Club Executive Committee (Excomm) and a few of the staff from the CCD took about an hour to set up everything at the Alumni House. Once guests arrived, we handed out some stories submitted anonymously by Caltech students to other students who had volunteered to read submissions. We ate dinner, and then the program started.
A few students (undergrad and grad) shared pre-written stories and poems, and then we opened the microphone to the audience, in case anyone was moved to speak or respond to anything they had heard. We listened to stories and responses for about an hour and a half. It was extremely emotional and very, very moving.
We ended the night by handing out tea light candles to everyone in attendance and holding a circle of light and moment of silence. The staff from the CCD was present to help everyone decompress and debrief, and many attendees hung out afterwards to talk about what we’d just heard and experienced.
Altogether I am grateful that we were able to hold an event like this on Caltech’s campus. There were clearly a lot of stories that needed to be heard, and I am grateful that so many of my peers were brave enough to stand before their friends and tell those stories.
…Or, How a Disciple of Bethany Ehlmann, a Former Desert Militiaman, Moore Lab Subbasement Dwellers, Roblox’s Newest Intern, a Florida Man, and a Luminous Plasma Scientist Went to War with the Caltech Mail Center, Got Double-Crossed by AirGas Corp., Survived Three COVID Outbreaks, and Nearly Stranded Themselves in the Mojave in order to Send a Bag of Peanuts to Space (A True Story).
Every midterm week and final week, Page House Peer Advocates (PAs) put on a de-stressing event. This term for midterms, the PAs hosted a painting night in conjunction with a Page dessert night. (Every Thursday, the House gives $60 to a pageboy (a member of Page) to buy a bunch of dessert and snacks for the house for dessert night.). They provided canvases, paint brushes, and a variety of paint colors for the night. It was a really fun and relaxing time to stop working on sets or studying for midterms for a bit and hangout with friends.
On the weekend of April 16th, my friends and I participated in the first ever Southern California College Poker Tournament! The tournament was for college students in the SoCal area with a $0 buy-in that doubled as a recruiting event for quant and finance firms. A senior friend of mine (Vanessa, a fellow blogger) put together a team of five girls who had no interest in being recruited and just wanted to have fun playing poker.
One of Caltech’s many clubs is the RISE tutoring program, where undergraduate students connect with local high schoolers and provide tutoring in various STEM subjects. I only became a tutor this academic year, but the experience has been so rewarding for me and, hopefully, also for the students I tutor.