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Students hold ‘Believe Survivors March’ in response to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment

“Hey hey, ho ho, Brett Kavanaugh has got to go!”

Chants like this could be heard throughout upper campus as a hoard of about thirty students in all black clothing marched on Monday for the “Believe Survivors March.”

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Association organized the march in response to Brett Kavanaugh’s recent appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. Controversy surrounds Kavanaugh’s appointment due to rape allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, who gave lengthy testimonies against him in a hearing.

Participants began marching from the Women’s, Gender and Equity Center at 2:30 p.m. to the “Go Beach” sign before eventually making their way back to the WGEC.

“We just wanted to use our voices to not only support survivors and create a safe space for survivors, but also to fight back against the people who seem to be silencing women,” senior English major and WGSSA Vice President Autumn Durand said. “We want people to know that we will not be silent, we will not be ignored and we are not just going to be complacent and sit back while Kavanaugh takes away our rights.”

Marchers carried posters sporting phrases such as “We Fight Back” and “Defend Roe V. Wade.” Some bystanders recorded with their phones and shouted in support, while others expressed opinions of dissent.

“I don’t know what they are protesting about because there is no evidence against him,” freshman interior design major Mary Escobar said. “Yeah, he went to parties and stuff like that, but there’s no reason he can’t be a political figure.”

While indifferent about the Kavanaugh situation, sophomore business major Jaonni Riley said the issue of sexual violence is important and Ford’s accusations continued that conversation across the nation.

“Sure, there is no evidence but since he is coming into a big position in the Supreme Court,  I understand why she wanted to tell people about her sexual assault,” Riley said. “Even though he was already appointed, a march like this makes people aware of what’s going on.”

Senior women’s, gender and sexuality studies major and WGSSA President Annika Horvath says she hopes that this demonstration and other similar actions will send a message not only to witnesses, but to policymakers as well.

“Politicians can’t use this as a bargaining chip and they can’t just walk all over survivors,” Horvath said. “They can’t say that Dr. Ford was credible, while still voting yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”

Horvath says that besides supporting each other during this time, it’s also essential that people take action in any way they can.

“Make sure you register to vote and then get out there and do it,” Horvath said. “Make sure your voice is heard and get involved in local community organizations. Clubs like this and other political organizations rely on the support of citizens and students. Just show up, go to protests and show that you care.”

Senior philosophy major Erik Rodriguez said he attended the march to show support as an ally to women and survivors of sexual assault.

“As a man, it’s our job to call out problematic behavior that we see in our own community,” Rodriguez said. “At the same time, I want to balance it with not overshadowing women’s voices. For me, today is just about showing solidarity, not shouting over the women around me.”

Following the march, WGSSA held a support group in the WGEC at about 3 p.m. for survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences and feelings in a safe space.

“To speak in a place where people believe you and want to support you is frankly indescribable,” Durand said. “I think most of us, especially survivors, don’t have these opportunities very often. It’s very empowering to find places like this where you feel safe and [that] leads to healing.”

Participants said they understood that not everyone will agree with them, but emphasized the need for opportunities to safely express themselves.

“Long Beach is a diverse campus, if people have an opinion different to ours then that’s fine,” said Katie Hernandez, a junior women’s, gender, and sexuality studies major. “We still need that safe space.”

Video|Adam Pacheco

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