April 23, 2012

Cheers and Jeers: April 23, 2012

JEERS to the Center for Women's Concerns at Plattsburgh State for being so inflexible that their high-profile Take Back the Night march, which has always brought their message out into the community, took place only on campus this year. The center had approached the Plattsburgh Common Council about holding its annual march to draw attention to violence against women. They wanted the 200 to 300 participants to walk down Broad Street and other city streets and back to campus to signify a woman's right to walk safely at night. But city councilors rejected that idea, saying it was unsafe for the participants to walk in the street. The march could take place on the sidewalks only, councilors said. Organizers were, we think, justifiably upset about the sidewalk restriction, since they had walked in the street in past years without incident. The Press-Republican took the center's side in an editorial, suggesting that the city figure out a way to allow a street march, with police escort, since "taking to the streets" is an important part of the message. City Councilor James Calnon stepped up with a compromise proposal: He would propose allowing a walk in the street, as long as it wasn't Broad Street; he said the major, four-lane road would be too dangerous for a late-night walk. Did the Center for Women's Concerns agree to this adjustment, which would have keep the march on the streets and out in the community? No, instead, they came off as pouting, saying that "to march under the new conditions set by the council would have betrayed our sisters around the world." We think their lack of flexibility betrayed their sisters by restricting Take Back The Night to an on-campus event that reached fewer people. They stifled their own message and came across as strident and unyielding. Their disappointing reaction doesn't bode well for future prospects for getting the march back onto the streets, where we firmly believe it belongs.

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