Hundreds of UVM students walked out of class at noon Oct. 4 to join faculty and community members on the Andrew Harris Green, where they protested Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
The rally was hosted primarily by the International Socialist Organization on campus and Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s chapter at UVM under the slogan “cancel class, cancel Kavanaugh.”
The rally featured speakers from the UVM Womyn of Color Coalition, United Academics, Burlington Progressive Party, the Peace and Justice Center of Vermont and Feminists Against Bullshit, a local protest group.
Representatives from UVM College Democrats and UVM Progressives were there to help people register to vote in the November midterm elections.
Following the rally, hundreds of students and faculty marched through Central campus chanting, “fuck Kavanaugh.”
“This is an important issue and this is an important day for fighting back,” said ISO member Scarlett Moore, a junior, while addressing the crowd.
Senior Teremy Garen, president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, said this was a day for everyone to stand in solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers.
Garen called Ford “a true American hero,” and said direct action is the most meaningful form of change.
“It’s a really visible form of change,” Garen said. “Disrupting daily life is how we get people’s attention.”
She also expressed disapproval of some of Kavanaugh’s legal views, describing him as anti-abortion.
“Banning and criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop abortion from happening,” Garen said. “It just ensures that a woman will die when she gets her abortion.”
Sophomore ISO member Cobalt Tolbert said Kavanaugh’s nomination is only the latest manifestation of how the legal system treats sexual assault.
“The constant attack on our body and basic rights must be fought on a daily basis,” Tolbert said to the crowd. “Be proud that when they tried to appoint a sex criminal that you stood up and you did something.”
Sophomore Nyria “RiRi” Stuart-Thompson, chair of the marketing and political committees for UVM’s Womyn of Color Coalition, spoke to the crowd about how the confirmation hearings have impacted people of color.
She told the story of Anita Hill, who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings in 1991.
“[Anita Hill] was stripped down of her confidence because white men would not believe her,” Thompson said. “This past week they did the same thing to Ford.”
UVM students need to make sure situations like this don’t happen at the University, she said.
“I have made it my duty that nothing like this will ever happen to people on campus,” Thompson said. “Hold your male friends accountable. Hold your female-identified woman accountable.”
Junior Gillian Natanagara, SGA vice president, said the rally made her proud to be a UVM student.
“Even if Kavanaugh doesn’t hear us scream, it’s really important to stand in solidarity with each other,” Natanagara said. “It is important to know that we’re all feeling the same anger.”
English lecturer Deb Noel came to the rally to support the students organizing the walk-out, although she didn’t have a class scheduled during it, she said.
Noel said she wouldn’t have canceled class, but if a student had asked for an absence she would have given it to them.
“Students have to weigh the priorities and values in their lives,” she said. “I would say this is sort of analogous to any ideological commitment, like a religious holiday.”