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Hundreds of students gather for rally against violence

Dylan Dewit

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Hallie Makrakis, a junior political science student, was part of the rally against violence on March 12, in response to recent violence in the community. Photo credit: Caio Calado

Chico State students took to the streets Wednesday night to demonstrate in response to recent violence in the community. The group converged at the free speech area of campus and marched through town to City Plaza.

Political science students Taylor Johnson, Charlie Curtis and James Proffer organized the event in less than 24 hours. The group wanted to give students a way to demonstrate concerns with student safety as well as show support for victims.

“We really want to bring students together, and find that core group to be with us for the long hall,” Johnson, Chico chapter president of Pi Sigma Alpha, said.

The “long hall,” according to the organizers, would involve initiating dialogue with university administration and city council, as well as campus and city police departments to begin implementing concrete policies that would better ensure the safety of Chico State students.

Proffer said the group’s end goal is to “put pressure on the administration to make them understand that our concerns are important, that our safety is important.”

“Ever since I heard about everything happening, I can’t really sleep. It makes me nervous,” Taylor McCarthy, a Child Development major, said. “It’s sad that people can’t even walk home safely.”

However, the rally offered hope to many of the attending students.

“This violence against students has to stop,” Political science professor John Crosby said. “This apathetic attitude by law enforcement, by UPD, about your personal safety and your property rights has to stop”

Ellen Falltrick, a freshman living in Whitney Hall, said that she is constantly afraid during her walk to an from work at Has Beans downtown. When asked if she felt safe on campus at night, she answered shortly, “No. But right now I do.”

Freshman Parker Rhodes said that the rally was the safest he has ever felt at Chico.

Orlando Corcuera, a freshman, said that he had recently had to stop a man from beating another student outside Tacos Mary on Ivy Street late at night, noting that during the assault, “Everybody was just walking by while he was getting beat up.”

Once the group arrived at City Plaza, a moment of silence was held for Travis Powell, a Chico State junior that was shot and killed early Saturday morning.

Students then took the stage to share their personal experiences with crime in Chico. Ryan Leon, a freshman, said that a close friend had been robbed at knifepoint.

“As we were walking over here, there were many of us that got cat-called just for walking by,” Curtis said.

Several students pointed out that non-existent lighting was a major issue for them. “There’s really no light,” McCarthy said. “It’s just darkness.”

“This is more than just a call to action. This is a call to personal responsibility,” Johnson said, “This is a call to uphold our commitment to protect one another. This is a call for the eradication of the word ‘bystander’ from our vocabulary, and to be replaced with ‘activist,’ ‘mediator’ and ‘friend.’”

Proffer said that the group is collaborating with several campus community members from faculty to department heads to develop policy suggestions to bring to City Council on March 24.

Johnson said the rally was “highly productive,” and added, “Now (students) know that there is a group of fighting for students.”

“When the community comes together,” Curtis said, “You can do absolutely anything.”

Dylan de Wit can be reached at [email protected] or @DylanTdeWit on Twitter.

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Hundreds of students gather for rally against violence