Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Anti-Kavanaugh rally brings student activists together

“Kavanaugh has no business on the Supreme Court”
Will Katcher/Collegian

Chanting “Hey ho, hey ho, Kavanaugh has got to go,” a coalition of activist groups rallied in front of the Student Union at the University of Massachusetts on Tuesday afternoon to mark their opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Several dozen students, alumni and area residents attended the rally from groups including the International Socialist Organization, UMass Students for Reproductive Justice, Our Revolution and the Center of Education and Policy Advocacy.

The rally, inspired by similar protests and rallies across the nation, followed last Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. While organizers said the testimony of Kavanaugh-accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford prompted the rally, they emphasized that they were protesting many issues regarding Kavanaugh’s views and bringing attention to issues such as homophobia, racism and bodily autonomy.

“When we saw survivors shout down [Sen.] Jeff Flake in Congress and got him to call for an FBI investigation, it shows what happens when people come together,” senior economics major William Harmer said. “We want to come out and show all these people they can’t control our country, and they can’t control us.”

Harmer, a member of Our Revolution, clarified that “these people” referred to many “right-wing individuals,” including President Donald Trump, and people who attack the rights and freedoms of Americans.

Harmer also spoke out against Sen. Dianne Feinstein for holding back Blasey Ford’s allegations until September, saying that something could have been done earlier to stop Kavanaugh from getting to the Senate floor.

Manny Pintado, a UMass alum involved with the ISO, said that it was “about time” perpetrators of sexual assault be held accountable, adding, “they’ve been getting away with [sexual assault for] too long.”

Early in the event, a few attendees began shouting at speakers about the sexual allegations against Democratic politicians including former President Bill Clinton. While this prompted arguments between members of the crowd, the individuals not associated with the organizing groups departed shortly after.

Many attendees expressed admiration for Blasey Ford’s choice to speak out on sexual assault. Meghan Lemay, a UMass alum and organizer with the ISO, said that Blasey Ford was a “hero” for coming out with her allegations. Lemay led several group chants on combatting sexual assault, including, “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no,” and “women power.”

“We really need to show up for survivors,” Lemay added. “Kavanaugh has no business on the Supreme Court.”

Alla Estuary, an Amherst resident, held a handmade sign at the rally and said that she wanted to take “every opportunity to protest.”

Estuary went on to argue that Kavanaugh’s behavior during his questioning was a clear contrast to the dignity Blasey Ford showed. “Survivors do not have to be composed,” Estuary said, “and [Blasey Ford] was.”

“In our country, sexual assault and harassment are considered norms and something we are expected to protect ourselves from, rather than expecting others never to commit,” Isabel Leonard-Rose, a CEPA member and sophomore STPEC major, said, discussing the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses.

Joshua Brown, a UMass alum attending the event, made a similar comment to Leonard-Rose in discussing how normalized language involving sexual assault is.

Referencing the recent controversy with UMass head football coach Mark Whipple, Brown said he agreed that “the call should have been for interference, but to use the word ‘rape’ – that’s uncalled for.”

Leonard-Rose spoke further about the intersectionality of sexual assault with many other social issues, including racism.

“Historically, accused rape was used as a justification for the lynching and killing of hundreds of Black males. In the same vein, Black women have almost never been believed when they came forward with experiences of sexual violence,” Leonard-Rose told the crowd, later participating in a “Black Lives Matter” chant.

Stacey Sexton, a UMass alum and ISO member, said that movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are critical to democracy. Pointing out the female leadership in each of those movements, as well as with teacher strikes in various states, Sexton argued that “we cannot rely on our institutions. We cannot wait for anyone but ourselves.”

Amidst final chants of “This is what democracy looks like,” Sexton commented that the rally showed many different points of opposition that existed against Kavanaugh beyond sexual assault. Considering the “fragmented” single-issue opposition to the nominee on issues like abortion or race, Sexton said that sexual assault provided something everyone could unite behind.

“Everyone knows a woman,” Sexton said.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote is currently postponed, pending the results of an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.

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  • A

    amyOct 5, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    The Left’s smears/lies are going to backfire and for mainstream America.

    Kavanaugh was an upstanding and is an upstanding supreme court nominee; he has long been considered(since mid 2000s) by other judges to be a future supreme court nominee, he attended and graduated from ivy league colleges, he had a great upbringing, he is Christian and he volunteers and all together is well respected, intelligent and qualified.

    What was the problem with the left? For one they are uncivilized; the left/liberals cannot disagree without throwing things, screaming, harassing people, demanding their way,etc. The problem is two things; one Kavanaugh is a white male who had a fortunate upbringing to the left this = evil. Second; maybe he is the extra supreme court justice that undoes roe vs wade. So what; the supreme court never had the right to undo abortion law nationally; this is a state right’s issue and for the people to decide; not a few unelected judges. So the left is hysterical about having the right to kill babies and at the same time have manipulated/riled up the base.

    What is going to turn mainstream America against the Left; is how truly nasty, low, mean and rotten the Left was in lying and smearing this judge and making the most vile and disgusting accusations without a shred of evidence. Any decent American is going to look at the left with repulsion and think to themselves.. should we really allow democrats to have power? Are they responsible, mature and ethical enough?

    The answer is resoundingly no.

  • D

    Dr. EdOct 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Tell me again how the Wiemar Republic worked out…
    What are you going to say when the right starts shouting people down as well?
    That’s the real risk here…

  • N

    NITZAKHONOct 3, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Sorry, Leftists and seditious traitors (I repeat myself). We’re finally woke to the fact that you’ve used SCOTUS to ram down your cultural revolution down our throats, and we’re throwing it up.

    Confirm Cavanaugh. Hope that the “Notorious RBG” kicks off a month after, and ram another Conservative down your throats.

    This is war. And now we’re fighting back.