Take Back The Night

Take Back The Night

By: Sophia Chupein


       The 1970s were filled with monumental changes for women’s rights in the United States, and much of this history can be traced through our very own UCSB community. The first Take Back the Night protest in the US likely took place in San Francisco in 1978, which catalyzed an eruption of marches across the states. Take Back the Night (TBTN) organizations and movements serve to raise awareness of domestic, sexual, and relationship violence, topics that continue to be ignored and undermined to this day.  In 1979, UCSB held its first TBTN protest in response to both the national movement and local hostility. This TBTN student organization continues to thrive, bringing awareness to a topic still ignored to this day.

       TBTN organizations across the nation formed during a time of hostile national debates over the necessity for equal rights. The debate around the passing of the Equal Right Amendment not only fueled antagonism between women and men but within the feminist movement itself. Those who supported the passing of the ERA, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), saw it as a vital step towards eliminating gender-based discrimination. Others saw it as both regressive for women’s rights and the beginning of the complete destruction of traditional American society.

 

[“Women’s Right Resolution Halted”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

The Santa Barbara community was facing hostility on a local level as well. The Isla Vista Women’s Center, hoping to provide refuge for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, initially struggled to assert its presence in the community and receive financial support.

 

[“Women’s Center seeks funds to continue”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

 

[“New Location Forcing Center to Close Women’s Crash Pad”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[“Need for Tougher Sentencing Told by ‘Battered Wives’ Author”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

 

[“Task Force Member Indicates Need for Emergency Shelters for ‘Battered Women’”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Take Back the Night protests were also fueled by the efforts of the Santa Barbara chapter of NOW, which formed in solidarity with the Women’s Center

[“NOW Aims at Womens Issues”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

       The first Take Back the Night protests at UCSB had to face issues with the police Santa Barbara Police Department, who were initially not willing to close State Street for the march because of the extra police they would have to station. While they eventually came to an agreement (see “Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No fear of attack”), this was not the only compromise the organizers had to make. As with many Take Back the Night protests across the country, men had been asked to walk behind the marchers, both as a symbolic gesture and as a form of protection. Jennifer Freed, co-coordinator of 1983 protest, called it a “poor compromise to have men back up the march and walk behind”, but that was a compromise that had to be made “until there is total freedom and equality for everyone”.

 

[“Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No Fear of Attack”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[“Local Marchers Light the Night”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

       As women’s rights organizations have gained momentum over the past forty years, so has UCSB’s Take Back the Night organization. Current co-chair of UCSB’s Take Back the Night Julianne Amores sees the organization as vital, since “we are the people who make the changes on campus, and we can’t wait for other people to make the changes”. Not only has the organization increased in membership and support, but is continuing to strive for diverse and intersectional perspectives. Amores accounts how “especially this year, I think we’ve become more inclusive, because I know TBTN traditionally was about women, but now we’re really acknowledging that it can really happen to any gender, anybody, any race” The organization hosts an annual spring rally and meetings throughout the quarter that provide a safe space for people to talk about their experiences and listen to others. Amores happily encourages everyone to attend the 2019 spring rally, which will be held on April 16th from 3:00-7:00 in between Storke Tower and the bike paths
Our community is still struggling to adequately address sexual, relationship, and domestic violence. One in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2017.1295014), and UCSB is no exception. Both listening and speaking up are vital to promoting equality, and UCSB’s Take Back the Night is continuing to do just that.

Works Cited


Amores, J. 2019, February 27th. Personal interview

UCSB Special Collections

Photo Gallery


[Support Group Comic, Students, box 12]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 44. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Bank of America Burning

February 27th, 1970


The IV Bank of America Burning was an intense, historical moment of student activism and social justice at UCSB.  It began as a peaceful protest at Perfect Park and spiraled into a community-wide retaliation against all symbols of corrupt justice.  Students sought to fight bigger powers at play such as Bank of America, and clashed with Isla Vista police during the chaotic events that occurred on February 27th, 1970.  

This historic night originated with protests and boycotts of Bank of America, sparked by the students at UCSB.  BOFA had been giving illegal loans to South African countries and indirectly supporting apartheid against government regulations, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  It illegally funneled money to the Pretoria Regime, which consisted of mostly white men in South Africa enforcing discriminatory apartheid rules towards the black population.   By funding their military and economic endeavors, Bank of America was supporting the perpetuation of a deadly racist society in order to gain access to mineral resources in South Africa.  Corporations like these have monetized human suffering for years, and the students in Isla Vista no longer tolerated the blind acceptance of Bank of America’s human rights violations. Supporting apartheid was only one of the numerous reasons why students were against Bank of America; the rest are outlined in archived pamphlets, flyers, and informational documents created for students by students to shed light on the power we hold as consumers to invest in businesses that are economically and socially held accountable for their actions.

 

 


[Reasons to Boycott BOFA, Bank of America: South Africa File, Box 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Despite numerous protests, pamphlets, and speeches, people continued to use Bank of America and Bank of America continued to support apartheid, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  And though these students were inspiring change, it wasn’t at the national scale it needed to be to execute a long-lasting, effective boycott by consumers.  This frustration in addition to already tense relations with police officers caused students to attack any symbol of “lawful institution” that tried to control them.

Documented here is a timeline of events that occurred in Isla Vista during the several days that the Bank of American Burning took place:

Kaye, Hillary. (1970, February).  Cops occupy I.V.: injuries. Arrests.  El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/pr76f457z

 

Student responses to this violent protest were also documented during a Letter To The Editor publication about the Isla Vista Bank Burning.  They shared their opinion on the violence that took hold overnight, and the students’ struggle for worldwide justice versus their struggle for local peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the 25 year anniversary of the Bank of America Burning, the Daily Nexus recovered more personal accounts of the night from faculty, students, and local residents that were in the area during the riots:

 

 

   
Robertson, Nick. (1995, February).  Witnesses recall the day that caused a ‘State of Emergency’ Declaration in Isla Vista, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/3b591979r

This account clarified many misconceptions about the catalyst of the Bank Burning.  William Kuntsler, the chief defense attorney in the “Chicago 8” case, gave a speech at Harder Stadium that people believed would incite a riot.  Cops gathered in Perfect Park, awaiting a massive disturbance, when the students were simply participating in a peaceful union in the park.  “‘They were dressed up in full riot gear, ready for anything. Then came a bunch of peaceful students coming back from the speech. It was an interesting contrast’” (6).  This account of the burning pinpoints Richard Underwood’s violent apprehension as the spark that set off what would be known as one of the most violent instances of chaos, confusion, and destruction in IV history.  

There are more details about the night presented in this special anniversary spread, as well as  snippets of resident testimonies and personal recollections of the events that occurred:

 

 

 

 

ROBERTSON, NICK. (1995, FEBRUARY).  WITNESSES RECALL THE DAY THAT CAUSED A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’ DECLARATION IN ISLA VISTA, RETRIEVED FROM HTTPS://WWW.ALEXANDRIA.UCSB.EDU/DOWNLOADS/3B591979R

 

The testimonies surrounding the Isla Vista Bank Burning portray a closer look into the resident mentality during this state of mass destruction and violent chaos.  The events that spiraled out between students and police officers originated with Bank of America’s devotion to profit from human suffering. Students in IV protested such gross mistreatment through gatherings, marches, and informational flyers.  The goal of the Perfect Park protest wasn’t to destroy the city they live in; the people simply wanted their voices heard and concerns acted upon. They wanted some semblance of control on their side and to make a change on behalf of those who couldn’t speak for themselves.  This doesn’t excuse the violence that erupted out of this movement, nor does it attack the actions of the police officers attempting to quell this event. It merely emphasizes the deep-seated rift between those who seek to enact and those who enforce justice in Isla Vista.


By: Frances Woo


Works Cited

[“Bank of America and South Africa” article, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Looking for a Place to Bank?  Five Good Reasons to Consider Avoiding the Bank of America” flyer, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.