Hundreds of 5C students march as part of nationwide reproductive freedom protest

5C students march past Claremont McKenna College’s McKenna Auditorium on Thursday. (Siena Swift • The Student Life)

For a long time, Daysi Manrique PO ’24 said she was scared to participate in protests because, as a Black woman and immigrant, she feared the possible repercussions. But the fear she felt on Monday, after reading a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which suggests the court may be prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, outweighed those doubts.

“I made a promise the day that I was naturalized — I felt a new sense of loyalty to my country and standing up for what is right is my way of showing that loyalty,” she said.

Manrique led the charge in organizing Thursday afternoon’s protest in support of Roe v. Wade. About 400 5C students marched through the 5C campuses, part of a Reproductive Freedom Protest that took place at more than twenty colleges nationwide. Manrique said she was connected to the group through a friend at Hamilton College that she met through Posse Scholars. 

“I literally have gotten goosebumps like every two minutes whenever we change chants, because again, I would’ve never expected myself to be here,” she told TSL. “But the fear that I felt when the news broke out is what put me here. And I think it’s what put a lot of people here, so I feel like we’re all united in this.”

Manrique said she hopes to see immediate support from the colleges but also long term solutions, including shuttles to Planned Parenthood clinics for students. She said that the national team will meet after the protest to formulate future steps, including to address the issue of counter-protesters, which some organizers experienced at their colleges. 

Students wore green, the international color of abortion rights. Some said they were drawn to the protest due to their personal experiences accessing reproductive healthcare.  

“I’ve been struggling with the fact that a lot of people think that having an abortion is like snip, snip, and you’re done. But I personally had one of my own and I mourned it. I mourned it and it was something I had to do cause I couldn’t give a child the life that they deserve,” Destiny Rivera-Gomez SC ’24 said.

She criticized those who suggest people should simply put children up for adoption or in foster care, especially as someone who experienced the foster care system themselves.

“The foster system is overflowed with children who were born — children who struggle with families who have addictions, who struggle with child abuse and the fact that they wanna overflow that and put more work on the social workers that already can’t maintain the amount of clients that they have to care for is ridiculous,” she said. “And the people who are like ‘Put them up for adoption,’ they don’t adopt themselves.”

Lily Dunkin SC ’24, who helped to organize the protest with the 5C Reproductive Justice Club, said that the loss of Roe v. Wade would increase the policing of communities that are already over-criminalized.

“I think that the possible overthrow of Roe v. Wade only adds to a history of criminalization of people’s bodily autonomy, starting from the founding of our country with Black and Indigenous people,” she said. “Every piece of restrictive sexual reproductive legislation that we’ve seen since the time I’ve been alive has been just another way for the state to control people’s bodies.”

Dunkin said that even now, while Roe v. Wade is still in place, many imprisoned people are not able to get an abortion and, of those that can, two thirds must pay out of pocket to get the procedure, making access nearly impossible in some cases. 

Alfredo Moreno PO ’22, who is from Texas, said that he was proud of how many people at the 5Cs showed up in resistance to the news. He added that Roe v. Wade is essential to the right to privacy.

“The concept of privacy was used to pass Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage across the United States,” he said. “As a gay man, that’s important to me too, and so I think it’s everyone’s fight.” 

Olivia Marble PO ’24, Linda Phan PO ’24 and Blessing Roland-Magaji SC ’24 all held signs at the protest in favor of abolishing the Supreme Court.

“Electoral politics will never ever save or protect human rights. Abortion isn’t just a woman rights issue. It’s a class issue and a race issue,” Marble said. “Those things would never be protected by a system that’s built to harm those rights.”

a large crowd of marchers at pitzer
Marchers proceed across Ninth Street to Pitzer College. (Siena Swift • The Student Life)

Roland-Magaji expressed a lack of faith in the Claremont Colleges to provide support for students experiencing harm, referencing a recent TSL opinion piece about Pomona’s Title IX process by Nanea Haynes PO ’22.

“Overall, the colleges have shown that they do not care about issues that pertain to their students. There’s a lot of issues around not just reproductive health, but also survivorship and criminalizing bodies that don’t seem to uphold anything [the institutions] seem to care about,” they said.

Marble echoed this sentiment.

“I didn’t even know that much about the pathways that survivors can take with Pomona until I read the article that Nanea wrote. And clearly, just from that article, you can tell that whatever pathways they do have are not in support of survivors and more in support of the institutions and the people in power who support these institutions,” she said.

Rivera-Gomez, who is from the nearby city of Pomona, said she hopes students will work more closely with the communities they inhabit. She also critiqued the lack of men at the march. 

“[5C students] should be taking the time out of their days to go support where they inhabit. You wanna shop in downtown Pomona? Why aren’t you supporting the people over there? You wanna shop in the Village? You should be having communication with the people and the residents of Claremont,” she said. “That’s the only thing that I ask for because this needs to be extended and they need to be putting this in everyday, not just coming out one day and supporting women.”

Ahnwyn Bowden PZ ’25, one of the student organizers of the protest, said marches are powerful because of their ability to demonstrate solidarity for those most harmed by lack of institutional support.

“The people that are going to be the most negatively impacted by this SCOTUS decision are poor people of color. And when we show up, we show them that they are not alone in these challenges and struggles that they’re going to have to face,” she said.

Maereid Shindell SC ’25 said that they’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed since they first read the leaked draft, but that they find solace in the community of people fighting back. 

“What’s giving me hope is the amount of people that are actively expressing their anger and that people just aren’t taking this bullshit, to be honest,” they said. “I hope that people keep the fire up.”

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