Students gathered around in front of the Otter Student Union (OSU) to read a chalk message displayed out front on Feb. 17. It read, “He continued asking me on dates. I said no multiple times. He was almost 30. I was 18. He was my supervisor at work.”
This is just one of many messages that can be found around campus.
Launching on Feb. 9, California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) exchange student, Jana Schroeder collaborated with the Otter Cross Cultural Center (OC3) to create the Instagram account @catcallsofcsumb, to join the international youth-led “Chalk Back” movement.
“When I arrived on campus a few weeks ago, I had to hear a stupid comment about my body during the first few days, so I was curious and searched for @catcallsof… accounts in the area and did not find in the immediate proximity of the campus,” Schroeder explained.
Once she did not find any accounts in the area, Schroeder explained she reached out to the OC3 to open an Instagram account for CSUMB. “The OC3 is even further interested in supporting this idea in providing resources for events in the future. I am very grateful for their support.”
The Chalk Back movement aims to spread awareness of the negative effects street harassment can lead to. The movement is committed to ending gender-based street harassment.
“We write stories of harassment word-for-word in the spots where they happened alongside the hashtag #stopstreetharassment using sidewalk chalk and then post on social media to spur dialogue and story sharing,” the chalkback.org website explains. “Through our local Instagram sites, community events, and anti-harassment workshops, Chalk Back members seek to influence bold cultural change within our communities.”
The Chalk Back movement started with the @catcallsofnyc account but has since expanded through six continents, 49 different countries, and 150 cities, according to chalkback.org.
Schrolder hopes writing out others’ experiences with street harassment “might confront the abusers on the pavement or online.”
The movement takes the confidentiality of those who share their stories very seriously, which extends to CSUMB’s account. Every story shared remains completely anonymous.
Other students stood in solidarity with Schroeder and appreciated the efforts she was going through to make this account and spread awareness to the campus community.
Fourth-year, Alex Woody was pleased to see the account develop, but had some concerns with the school’s response to it.
“I feel like it’s a good way to draw attention to instances of sexual harassment in our local community, especially in relation to campus and our fellow students,” Woody said. “But it’s kind of discouraging to see how fast CSUMB erases the (chalk) messages, to be honest. I do appreciate what they are trying to do.”
Fellow fourth-year, Mak Webber was already aware of the movement, after finding out about the movement through TikTok.
“I’ve seen some of the writing around campus,” she said. “I think it’s a really smart way to bring attention to street harassment. Women know just how often it happens, literally anywhere and everywhere.”
She continued, “It’s hard to read some of that stuff because I’ve heard those same things being said to me, but it needs to be called out.”
Chalk Back coming to CSUMB’s campus has already left an impact on changing the community for the better. One message written by a MST bus stop read “MST bus driver said my legs looked good in my skirt.”
Schroeder shared that the MST bus company responded to the post on @catcallsofcsumb. MST provided Schroeder with all the information someone would need to report a case like this.
Students looking to get involved or join the movement can message the @catcallsofcsumb account or head to chalkback.org to learn more. Students can also message the account to share their own experiences with catcalling in or around CSUMB.
If you or anyone you know needs to submit a Title IX report, you can do so at https://csumb.edu/titleix/ or contact CSUMB’s Title IX Coordinator, Wendy Smith, at 831-582-3510.
The Personal Growth and Counseling Center also offers a 24/7 crisis intervention for support. This number can be contacted at 831-582-3969.