5C students protest confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, march through campuses

CW: sexual assault

5C students protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in a march through the Claremont Colleges campuses Oct. 9. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

“Who will vote? We will vote!”

Chants like this erupted from a group of around 100 Claremont Colleges students Tuesday afternoon, as they marched over 1.2 miles across the 5Cs, protesting the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Oct. 6.

The protest lasted for approximately 30 minutes, as the group of mostly female students marched from Malott Commons at Scripps College, through Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College before returning back to the Bowling Green at Scripps. Upon returning to Malott, the protesters were applauded by those eating lunch nearby. There was no visible opposition to the protest.

Madeline McCluskey SC ’21 and Gabby Jacoby SC ’21 had organized the protest via a public Facebook event. They both emphasized the importance of outlining an inclusive, peaceful protest for people of all races, backgrounds, and gender identities.

“I thought this event was somewhere where people who were upset could deal with that emotion and feel empowered to do something.” McCluskey said. “It is a time where we feel like our voices were stripped and no matter what we do, it doesn’t feel like enough. You can always do more, and your voice always matters, even if sometimes it feels like it doesn’t.”

The protest carried a clear call to action for students at the 5Cs: vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

“We were watching the senators voting in Kavanaugh, we were paying attention, and we will be the ones to vote them out of office,” Jacoby said to the crowd at the conclusion of the march.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate with a 50-48 vote Saturday. The vote followed a month of contentious confirmation proceedings, centered on allegations of sexual violence by the Supreme Court Justice.

Kavanaugh has been publicly accused of sexual assault or misconduct by three different women: Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick.

“As a woman, it’s a complete atrocity that someone that was accused by multiple women of sexual assault would serve on the highest court of our country,” said Eliana Kaplan PO ’19, who participated in the protest.

Another student expressed similar sentiments. 

“I’m done with sexual predators being in power, and I think it’s time to change the narrative,” protester Lily Lucas SC ’22 said.

Protest organizer Madeline McCluskey SC ’21 leads a chant during a Tuesday afternoon protest of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Elinor Aspegren • The Student Life)

McCluskey and Jacoby added that the protest served as a community gesture to support those affected by Kavanaugh’s nomination, as well as survivors of sexual assault.

“We needed to have a moment of solidarity on campus to raise the morale of people and let them know that there are people that they can lean on here,” Jacoby said.

Chants from the protesters included, “We believe Dr. Ford,” “End rape culture!,” and “Our body, our choice!”

Tova Levine SC ’21, another protester, said the march demonstrates a moment of solidarity for those troubled by recent events.

“[The protest is a] great way for people to feel like they are not alone,” Levine said.

The protest began and ended at Scripps, and was organized by Scripps students. The college expressed its support of peaceful protest on campus.

“Scripps College encourages students to engage in dialogue about current political, economic, and social events that affect their lives and the future of society,” Scripps spokesperson Carolyn Robles wrote in an email to TSL. “The College recognizes that peaceful protests are one example of such civic engagement, and we support students’ right to visibly and vocally express their values and beliefs.”

A group of 5C faculty and administrators also gathered to watch the protest and followed the march to look out for students’ safety.

“I and all other staff, with [Campus Safety] and others across the consortium, are here to support students,” said Christopher Waugh, Pomona associate dean of students and dean of campus life. “Generally these student protests are peaceful, students get their voices heard, and it’s effective demonstration.”

Haidee Clauer contributed reporting.

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