Students march for women’s rights

Senior English major Melissa Martinez leads a chant while walking through the Oaks residence halls with the Womyn’s International Day March Wednesday. The participants, including women and men, students and staff, trekked through campus with signs in support of Women’s History Month. After the march, students and faculty were encouraged to share their thoughts and inspirations during the open-mic portion of the event hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity.
Senior English major Melissa Martinez leads a chant while walking through the Oaks residence halls with the Womyn’s International Day March Wednesday. The participants, including women and men, students and staff, trekked through campus with signs in support of Women’s History Month. After the march, students and faculty were encouraged to share their thoughts and inspirations during the open-mic portion of the event hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity. / photo by Megan Peralez

Brooke Grasso
Editor in Chief

Nearly 50 University of La Verne women and men gathered in the quad to make their voices heard during the Womyn’s International Day March organized by the multicultural club council Wednesday night.

The group marched through the streets surrounding the University with handmade signs, a bullhorn and their passion for change. The march was coordinated with other events on campus that recognized Women’s History Month.

Chants such as “my body my choice,” “silence is violence,” “education not deportation,” and “people united will never be divided,” prompted students to watch and cheer from their dorm room windows and drivers to honk in support.

“Take a stand,” Sofia Flores-Borbon freshman education major said to the crowd before the march. “One day our president will hopefully see that we are not willing to settle for less.”

Flores-Borbon said that the goal should be to create a better future so the next generation does not experience the same injustices that are happening now.

Each student had their own inspiration for marching.

Senior English major Melissa Martinez works in the office of multicultural services and said she became an activist because of her personal and life experiences.

As a rape survivor, she said she is motivated to keep fighting because she has to.

“I had to unlearn hating being a woman, because that was always ingrained in me,” said Martinez, who marched on a sprained ankle, leading the group with the bullhorn almost the entire time.

After the group finished the march route, the conversation continued when everyone was invited and encouraged to share their reasons for participating.

Martinez paid homage to the women in her life with a letter she recited.

“Because of you, I am who I am,” she said. “Because of you, I fight for justice.”

Senior political science major Mariela Martinez stood in front of the crowd and emphasized how important it is for women to support each other, instead of competing with one another.

“Empower one another and give light to each other,” Martinez said.

Although the turnout was not as large as it could have been freshman anthropology major K’tema Burleson said she is just as encouraged to make her voice be heard.

“This is what it means to be empowered,” she said. “No matter how small this is there is still a vibe and all that matters is that we produce that vibe into our environment.”

Associate Professor of Education Leslie Young brought her class of 17 graduate students to the march. Young said it is important to be all-inclusive, something she hopes her multiculturalism students take with them into their careers when they work with families who have experienced adversity.

“It is empowering to know their voice has been heard and that people of all ages and backgrounds believe in human rights,” a graduate student in Young’s class, Kiesha Nazarenus, said.

Senior kinesiology major and President of the Multicultural Club Council Jarrett Mason was proud that ULV is not being silent and is taking a stand for women rights as human rights.

While planning the march, Mason spoke with other student leaders on campus to and decided the focus of the march was to address what still needs to be done, reflect recent political activity and talk about recent hate speech toward women and minorities.

“It was awesome to see everyone here standing together, not showing fear, being proud of who they are and being loud,” Mason said.

“The goal is to inspire people to be motivated and create their own motivation,” he said.

The term “womyn” used for the march is an alternative spelling meant to show their independence from men.

Although International Women’s day is over, the Women’s History month celebration will continue with other events on campus.

For more information on the upcoming events visit laverne.edu/diversity/events.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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