U. of C. students rally against Kavanaugh

University of Chicago student Celia Hoffman speaks at a protest against the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh on the campus’ Main Quad, Oct. 5. – Aaron Gettinger

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff Writer

A few dozen University of Chicago students rallied on the campus’ Main Quad on Friday, holding a moment of silence for victims of sexual violence and then calling their U.S. senators to protest Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s apparent path to confirmation to the Supreme Court.

The protest was organized by the Phoenix Survivors Alliance and Project Reproductive Freedom.

“Our misogynic system has allowed the worst of the patriarchy and the culture of violence against women to end the day,” said Celia Hoffman. “But it’s 2018, and we’re saying enough is enough,” demanding equal justice under the law and the end to “the cycle of abuse and sexual violence and oppression.”

Hoffman told the crowd that, just as senators’ votes on Kavanaugh will be the most important of their careers, the protesters’ votes in the coming midterm elections will be among the most important of their lives.

Amara Balan said that, as a survivor of sexual assault and “someone who spends every Wednesday night sober at a fraternity party in hopes that it makes one woman feel safer or stronger, I know a thing or two about the culture of sexual violence in our country.” She expressed fear at the prospect of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and lawmakers voting along party lines over such sexual assault allegations or morals.

Balan sought to leave the audience with hope, however, because there are “people who will not let themselves be intimidated into silence,” who believe that “truth deserves a voice.”

“Despite what happens today, as long as we continue to believe people who come forward with their stories, then the truth has power, and the truth will not be stopped,” Balan said.

Dylan Stafford acknowledged that the students’ children will likely be in high school by the time Kavanaugh is no longer on the Supreme Court, “and that’s decades of progress we’ll never be able to get back.” He said the nation must start raising its boys better to fix the problem of sexual assault and urged support for the Democratic Party in November.

Kate Healy said that, while Kavanaugh would likely become a Supreme Court justice, “that does not mean that our battle stops here, because the national stage is not the only stage where believing survivors matters.”

Healy urged the crowd to “focus on what we can control directly,” saying that students “must never stop working to create a culture of belief and safety that we want to see in the headlines.”

“We must believe rumors around campus. Use this righteous anger to talk to your friends and your neighbors about what’s going on,” she said. “Remember to think local and fight hard to ensure that every woman on this campus feels comfortable, feels like she’s believed and feels like she’s part of a community.”

a.gettinger@hpherald.com