Chants of “Kavanaugh has got to go” and “No excuse for violent men” filled Fairfield Way during yesterday’s rally opposing the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The rally, which was organized by UConn Youth for Socialist Action (YSA) in collaboration with several other groups, featured speeches from members of Revolution Against Rape (RAR), the UConn branch of the National Council of Negro Women and the Graduate Employee Union, among others.
“We are joined here together today to stand in solidarity with Dr. Ford, as well as (with) all the struggles of all women and victims of sexual abuse and assault,” UConn YSA President Wyatt Mund said. “I’m angry, I hope that each and every one of you is as angry as I am.”
Jodi Weintraub, a member of Aish UConn, said society has “turned a blind eye” to issues of sexual assault and violence.
“For far too long, survivors of sexual assault, especially women, have been silenced. Sexual violence has been normalized, even embraced,” Weintraub said. “When survivors like Dr. Ford have the courage to come forward with their stories, they are ridiculed and dismissed. It is time to seek justice–for Dr. Ford and survivors everywhere.”
Several speakers spoke on their personal stories of sexual assault and violence, including RAR President Annastasia Martineau and Alleyha Dannett, a member of UConn National Council of Negro Women.
“It took me a while to be able to use the term ‘survivor’ of sexual violence. Quite honestly, it didn’t always feel like I was surviving,” Martineau said. “Being a survivor isn’t glamorous and it isn’t pretty. It has been a long and constant journey to reclaim my power and find my voice.”
“I stand here in solidarity with every single person here and every single survivor that is out here, that is breathing. I think it is important that we acknowledge that the small things we as survivors do is everything,” Dannett said. “The fact that you get up in the morning is an accomplishment. The fact that you go to class, the fact that you take care of yourself is an accomplishment.”
Graduate Employee Union President Mary Bugbee said her union has worked diligently to fight for protections against sexual harassment, assault and discrimination at UConn.
“Even at UConn, a liberal institution, we’ve had to defend rights in cases of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination,” Bugbee said. “Through collective action, and the collective voice of our union, we not only prevented the university from stripping us of important rights, but we won new contractual rights, including interim protection measures for people coming forward to report instances of sexual harassment while the claim is being investigated.”
The speakers told the crowd that, in situations of sexual assault, the blame should fall on perpetrators, rather than victims.
“It’s important that everyone knows that no matter what you do, no matter what you wear, sexual violence is never your fault,” Dannett said.
During the rally, three men across Fairfield Way held posters that read “Sin Awareness Day” and various other Evangelical messages.
Mike Stockwell, one of the men, said they were preachers with a group called “Cross-Country Evangelism” and had not chosen purposely to demonstrate on the same day as the anti- Kavanaugh rally.
“When we got here there was no one here, so we started, and then all of a sudden this other group formed after us,” Stockwell said. “So we didn’t really plan on being a counter-protest type thing.”
Ashley Robinson, a member of Quiet Corner Democratic Socialists of America and current Ph.D. in education student at UConn, said she attended and spoke at the Kavanaugh protest because she wanted to take action.
“With everything that has been happening in the last few weeks, a lot of us were feeling like we needed to do something,” Robinson said.
Seventh-semester biology major Alisa Bounvichit also said she attended the rally because she felt that speaking up against Kavanaugh’s nomination was important.
“I feel like a lot of people, even if we aren’t survivors or anything like that, need to be in support of one another, and what better way to do that than to get together?” Bounvichit said.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.