‘We have to take back Sac State’: Survivors march across campus

Students advocate for change sexual assault awareness


Alyssa Branum

Students march together at the Take Back the Night event starting in the Library Quad at Sacramento State Wednesday, April 26, 2023. The event is put on annually to support survivors of sexual assault.

Justine Chahal

Students and faculty gathered in the library quad at Sacramento State to hear survivors denounce sexual violence before leading a march around campus.  

Sac State held Take Back the Night, an event to support survivors of sexual violence, on Wednesday. The annual event, organized by Student Health and Counseling Services as well as WEAVE, was one of multiple held on campus as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

While Take Back the Night is an annual event, students expressed additional concern after multiple reported assaults have occurred on and off campus over the academic year. 

Third-year criminal justice major Antonio Cisneros, one of the speakers and a survivor, said students should not accept an unsafe campus and advocate for change. Cisneros said the demands students were making were reasonable and basic requests from just wanting to be safe. 

[Students] need to feel safe on this campus and we should not be asking for these things in the first place

— Antonio Cisneros

“[Students] need to feel safe on this campus and we should not be asking for these things in the first place,” Cisneros said. “We need to reclaim this campus for any injustices. We have to take back the night and we have to take back Sac State.” 

Annalisa Vasquez, a fourth-year criminal justice major who has previously spoken at events, including the Student March Against Sexual Violence held in March, talked about her own experiences as a survivor and how it was important to have support systems present. Vasquez said that promoting more discussion around sex education and consent helped her find her voice. 

To the survivors of the assaults on campus, Vasquez also expressed her solidarity. 

“I don’t know these survivors, but I hold them in my heart and think of them often,” Vasquez said. “I can only speak for myself. For me, it’s very healing to make sure that I am known to be an advocate for them and also be a resource if they need it.” 

Vasquez said she plans to create a student-led organization next semester to educate and support survivors of sexual assault. 

Take Back the Night also featured tabling from organizations on campus, including the Sacramento Native American Health Center and Sac State Police Department, so students could become aware of what resources were available on campus. 

Oriana Hawkins, a third-year sociology major, said she was unaware of certain campus services like the escort system. 

“We just didn’t know about a lot of these things and they’re great resources,” Hawkins said. “Just let people know that there are resources here.” 

Third-year sociology major Rashida Hameed said, as a transfer student, she was surprised to hear about the assaults on and nearby campus. She also agreed there could be better-advertised services.

“I would think this would be a safer campus because there’s, like, a presence of safety when I hear about those things,” Hameed said. “I would want people to know beforehand [about resources] so it’s preventative.” 

President Robert Nelsen told students to contact his office and the Vice President of Student Affairs, Ed Mills, for support. During the event, Nelsen listed initiatives in the Sexual Violence Prevention, Safety and Support Action Plan and said the university is dedicated to stopping sexual violence.   

“We’re dedicated to supporting the survivors of sexual violence we’re dedicated to creating a caring university and a caring campus,” Nelsen said. 

Mia Vizcaino, a fourth-year women and gender studies major, said although she was happy to see events like these held throughout the month, they did not feel safe on campus. They added while they understood change takes time, they have yet to see promised changes being made. 

“It’s great that there’s a plan set in place but I know President Nelsen is leaving and some of his people under him are also leaving,” Vizcaino said. “I want to make sure whoever comes in that these changes are implemented and they are taken seriously because this is a very serious issue.”

Although the event marks the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, its speakers said they would not stop advocating for change. 

“We’re not going to stop,” Vasquez said. “All the plans that we have: the committee, the different resources on campus and me personally, it’s not going to end here.”