About the Author

My name is Mia Cai Cariello. I am a 4th year Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major with minors in Human Rights, Studio Art, and Asian-American studies. I am the President for the Transracial Adoptees at Ohio state as well as the President of Take Back the Night at Ohio State (TBTNOSU) from 2019-2021. I wanted to dive deeper into the history of anti-rape activism at Ohio State University as a way to honor and learn from those who did the work before me. I was awarded the 2020 Undergraduate Research Library Fellowship (URLF) which has given me the opportunity to dedicate the necessary time to undertake such an endeavor.

Before starting this research, I had only a vague idea of what anti-rape activism looked like at Ohio State. I had no idea that Take Back the Night at Ohio State had so many predecessors that successfully called for community action against sexual violence on campus decades before. My research was not limited to only official OSU student organizations. Groups and organizations that had large student participation rates were also included. I wanted to trace the rise and fall of groups and their lasting impact on OSU student anti-rape activism today. 

With an interest in the development of anti-rape student activists at the OSU, I created this exhibit to showcase anti-rape activism from the 1970s to the present. There were many groups that tackled the issue of sexual violence over the years, but each seemed to have a different approach and ebbed and flowed in influence. Some morphed into different entities altogether while others disbanding entirely.

The exhibit will guide you through archival materials, beginning with a contextualization of OSU’s campus and issues in the early 1970s, which was when organizations such as the Women’s Action Collective (WAC) and Women Against Rape (WAR) first established themselves and key events that molded them. Moving into the persistent yet adaptive activism of the Take Back the Night movement in Columbus in the late 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. I also highlight how solidarity amongst and between various people of different sexual orientations, ethnicities, classes, and races contributed and enhanced the overall anti-rape movement. Finally, examining how the criticism that the groups and movement faced and the resulting shift in anti-rape politics and goals in contemporary anti-rape activists’ groups.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my research was informed predominantly by The Lantern digital archives, which were supplemented by interviews I conducted with previous and current Anti-Rape activists. There may be more anti-rape groups that were active within this timeframe that were not documented; however, this exhibit is committed to demonstrating the breadth of the anti-rape movement and so will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Today, many see the campus illuminated by multiple street lights and emergency call boxes. OSU runs the CAB buses free of charge for students and has busing to residential areas as well. As of Autumn of 2019, every first-year student at The Ohio State University must take an online module on consent and complete the Buck-I-Care About Consent program or they will not be able to schedule their classes. Programming on sexual violence takes place in a variety of student groups and departments. A look back at the experiences of anti-rape activists on campus throughout the last fifty years is useful in both recognizing the progress that has been made and while still illuminating the work that must still be done.

I would like to express my very great appreciation to Dr. Mytheli Sreenivas, my professor who encouraged and enabled me to apply for the URLF and Dr. Leigh Bonds, my research supervisor who aided and guided me throughout the entire process. I would also like to thank Madison Eagle, Emma Terres, Raven Neal-Jackson, and my fellow TBTNOSU members for being incredible mentors, coworkers, and friends who continually support and inspire me. I would also like to extend my gratitude to all of the people who were willing to be interviewed. I really appreciate them for their cooperation and patience. Lastly, I would like to thank my family who motivated me to pursue this opportunity and instilled me with confidence along the way.

About the Author