Students step up to Take Back the Night


Students march from campus to the streets for Take Back the Night Thursday evening with candles. Photo credit: Emily Teague

Take Back The Night March
Students march from campus to the streets for Take Back the Night Thursday evening with candles. Photo credit: Emily Teague

A diverse community of students filled the Bell Memorial Union with hope and support on Thursday for Take Back the Night to take a stand against rape and sexual violence.

Laura Napoliello, a senior double major in political science and women’s studies, is the women’s program coordinator for the Gender & Sexuality Equity Center.

The event draws attention to the prevalence of sexual assault
and rape culture in society, she said.

“It also gives space for survivors to support each other and allies to support survivors,” Napoliello said.

The event included many different events throughout the evening, such as a keynote speaker, a rape culture workshop, a survivor speak-out, spoken word poetry and a candlelight vigil.

Many students, such as Margaret Boynton, a senior elementary education major and recent transfer student, arrived at this event for the first time and did not know what to expect.

“This event is new to me,” Boynton said. “I personally come from a rural area, and it is not as much of an issue as it is here, so it is important to go to this.”

The night was full of emotion and empowerment as speakers and students shared their experiences.

Taylor Zampini, a sophomore criminal justice major, related to the student speakers.

“It makes it so much more real when you see someone your own age talking about their experiences,” Zampini said. “It really hits home.”

Olivia VanDamme, a junior geography major, was the first student keynote speaker since the 1970s. She discussed her personal experience with sexual assault and how she ended up at Chico State.

VanDamme began her college experience at University of Oregon, her dream school, but unfortunately everything changed for her after one night.

“Your consent is your voice, and it can be taken away any time,” VanDamme said. “I am pushing for justice.”

She continued to talk about reporting the man, going through the process and how she overcame her trials and tribulations.

“It was the lowest time for me,” she said. “I want to send the message that we need to take care of each other and accept people for their experiences and listen.”

VanDamme shared with everyone how she made the move to Chico State and how her involvement in Adventure Outings and other campus organizations helped her toward healing.

“I am here to fight, support, expose the truth, listen, share and inspire you through my experiences,” she said. “I take back the night.”

Lindsay Pincus can be reached at [email protected] or @LindsayPincus on Twitter.