University Day, UNC’s annual celebration of its founding, coincides with the CFC rally. Now in its 225th year, the University has cancelled classes from 9:05 to 12:20 p.m. today to encourage members of the community to attend its celebrations. The CFC is capitalizing on this time to highlight what it sees as the administration’s shortfalls.
“We’re starting at the steps of South Building during University Day, which we feel is very symbolic because UNC has received not only local and state but also national acknowledgement for not handling sexual assault well, or at all,” Burley said.
Emily Bullins, co-chairperson of Preventing Violence with Sexual Health, thinks a physical presence will be impossible for administration to ignore.
“While they’re celebrating themselves, we’re there physically to say, ‘You’ve let us down, and we’re not tolerating it,’” Bullins said.
The rally will have speakers at South Building and opportunities for expression before an optional march to Fraternity Court. Organizers of the rally felt it important to emphasize the role of fraternity culture in sexual assault incidents on UNC’s campus and in the Kavanaugh confirmation.
“It’s a big perpetrator of rape culture on campus,” said Olivia Neal, print editor of UNC feminist magazine “The Siren.” “One of the goals is to bring frat members into the fold and say, ‘This is on you, too, to step up and do something.’”
Bullins links fraternity culture to the Supreme Court confirmation.
“I think a lot of the language and conversation surrounding Brett Kavanaugh excused his terrible behavior, as in ‘He’s just a guy’s guy. He’s just having fun. He was in a frat. They party,’” Bullins said. “That’s not excusable.”
Organizers of the rally want to send the message that Ford’s alma mater supports her. Ford was recently nominated for a 2019 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Award, and a full-page crowdfunded advertisement also ran in The Daily Tar Heel last week.
“We believe and support UNC alumna Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. We stand with her and with all victims of sexual violence,” the ad said.
Hannah Inman, another co-chairperson of Feminist Students United, said she wasn’t sure if UNC culture has changed since Ford was an undergraduate student.
“A lot of people will say that since Dr. Ford’s been here, a lot of women have taken so many strides and so much has been done since,” Inman said. “I mean, it might be true. There might be more formal laws, but there’s still a huge problem with culture and barriers that are unseen.”
These barriers extend to even mundane aspects of life, said Patty Matos, a senior public relations major and social and economic justice minor. Matos designed the Ford newspaper ad.
“Sexual violence is something women have to adjust their daily lives around,” Matos said. “If you ask a group of men and women what they do when they need to walk to their cars at night, men will just say they walk to their cars, whereas women will come up with a list of the measures they take to stay safe.”
Neal hopes the CFC rally will bring more security to people threatened by sexual violence.
“We want to acknowledge that UNC hasn’t always been the safest space, but we want it to be,” she said.