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6th December 2023

University of Manchester’s Reclaim the Night takes over city centre

The new route saw the march take over the city centre with a wider diversity of speakers than previous events
University of Manchester’s Reclaim the Night takes over city centre
Credit: Jonah Willitts

On Wednesday, November 29, the city centre saw the return of the Students’ Union ‘Reclaim the Night.’

This year’s edition introduced a new route starting at the Students’ Union on Oxford Road, going through Oxford Street, into central Manchester and ending at the Great Northern.

Students’ Union Affairs Officer Hannah Mortimer endorsed the new route, saying “having the route change has made it go just from a student march to a really big city-wide march.” She emphasised the “positive” effects it will have on getting “people more involved in activism and get[ting] the conversation going.” 

This year’s theme was ‘Convince Me Not’ with a focus on coercion. Charities involved in the event included the ‘LGBT Foundation’ and ‘Southall Black Sisters’. 

Both charities were supported with fundraising events, such as the Creative Showcase Fundraiser, hosted prior to the Wednesday night march. 

Whilst shouts and jeers were heard during the march (which took place in -2c temperatures) this did not dampen the spirits of protestors as students marched on with many members of the public supporting from the sidelines.

One particularly heartwarming gesture was an older woman standing by the side of the march, clapping and cheering while shedding a few tears. Joyful marchers whooped back at her show of support.

This wasn’t the only public supporter on the march, as workers from the Co-op and Superdrug came out to clap joined by individuals taking photos while shouting encouragement. 

Chants of “My body: my choice” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho: Patriarchy’s got to go” were proclaimed loudly by the crowd who were especially focused on the issues of freedom and consent.

This years ‘Reclaim the Night’ ended at the Great Northern with audience members sitting in the amphitheatre to listen to speeches by student society leaders Loz and Sohini. 

They were also joined by Aisha Akram, the SU’s Wellbeing & Liberation Officer, along with Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Kate Green.

Diversity and inclusion seemed to be the focal point in many of the speeches, with frequent acknowledgment of the importance of intersectionality, as well as the need to diversify the definition of women when involved in feminist causes. 

While the crowd were supportive of the speeches, with some prompting exclamations of “F*ck the Tories” and “F*ck the Patriarchy,” the deputy Mayor of Manchester received a lukewarm reception. 

When interviewed, Sophie, a 2nd year History and Sociology student, believed that the “deputy mayor wasn’t really hitting the mark, she was saying a lot of stuff about investing money […] rather than investing in education and educating men.” 

The crowd at this year’s march also included former students and members of the public, achieving one of the goals set out by the organisers to expand participation. 

“I used to come to the marches when we were at uni” stated Rishin, a recent graduate in Drama and English. 

Members of the public joined in the middle of the protest or stayed to listen to the speeches made at the Great Northern. 

Aisha, a second year studying English Literature stated “it was nice to be in a community surrounded by people that are fighting for the same cause.”

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