Restore the Night is a weeklong campaign of events and workshops that intend to raise awareness, create a sense of solidarity, and ultimately put an end to sexual and gender-based violence. While this campaign’s ideology is derived from the worldwide campaign Take Back the Night, it is not the same. Take Back the Night events have been held on Goucher’s campus in past years. The event consisted of a single-night gathering where survivors’ stories were shared. With only a single night to focus on such an emotionally charged topic, it can often be a very heavy, upsetting and somber night. Sarojini Schutt (’18) and Maggie Ratrie (’18) wanted to do something different, and organized a campaign addressing different aspects of the multifaceted topic of sexual and gender-based violence through different events over the span of a week.
Restore the Night differs from Take Back the Night in regards to the focus on restorative justice – an approach that aims to mend the harm caused by a crime, emphasizing accountability of offenders and healing for victims. With Schutt’s senior Peace Studies capstone project, her focus of study is restorative justice in the survivor community, while Ratrie’s senior thesis holds a focus on restorative justice on the side of the perpetrator. Schutt is hopeful that this method will take hold, saying that, “When I leave Goucher, I want people to understand that restorative justice is just one of many methods that can and will work on this campus.” Another goal of Restore the Night is to create a more inclusive space than that of Take Back The Night.
Concerning the new goal, Schutt said “[At Take Back the Night] there never feels like a space for other stories, of people who don’t identify as survivors, people that know something happened to them but are not really able to call themselves a victim or a survivor. This week-long campaign is giving a space for so many people to jump into the conversation, whether it is just a guy that doesn’t know what his role is, or a nonbinary person that doesn’t feel comfortable labeling themselves as a survivor because the term is so feminine.”
Schutt also hopes to dispel any myths surrounding sexual violence and rape culture, perpetuated through certain language and dialogue, stating, “Take Back the Night doesn’t shatter the myths enough for me, and does not include the multitudes of stories that need to be told.”
The events held over the week-long campaign share an emphasis on community. Ratrie hopes for more of a community effort, rather than one person doing all the work or feeling alone in the matter, stating, “Injustice anywhere in our community affects all of us.”
Schutt believes it “takes a community to be able to say enough,” and so we must work together in support of each other to put an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Every community member holds responsibility in rape culture, and has a hand in being able to demolish it.” As Schutt aptly described it, Restore the Night is “a place to understand what your role is.” Additionally, Schutt said that Restore the Night is “about raising awareness of power and privilege” among different groups and individuals within a community.
Through months of hard work and emotional labor that began in October, Restore the Night has finally become a reality. Sarojini Schutt and Maggie Ratrie are the main organizers of the campaign, but mentioned they could not have done it without the work of Lydell Hills, Kate Erickson, Jamison Curcio and Elaine Millas. This is the first time this campaign was held at Goucher but Schutt proclaims, “This is the first Restore the Night, and hopefully not the last.”