On Sunday, UNC students participated in Redirect the Rage, a rally hosted by the UNC Undergraduate Student Government and several other student organizations to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The rally was originally planned to be held on July 9 but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Students made posters at the Old Well and marched down East Cameron Avenue and Raleigh Street to the Pit. Chants such as "My body, my choice," and "I've been mad for too many days, time to redirect the rage!" rang out through the streets.
UNC Student Body President Taliajah "Teddy" Vann led protestors in chants through a megaphone. She said that students from other colleges in North Carolina, such as those in Duke's Black Student Alliance, are involved with Redirect the Rage.
"This is the beginning of this grassroots effort," she said.
Vann further explained that this rally was meant to help get people familiar with and involved in the movement. She said Redirect the Rage will be a series of events, with the next event planned to take place closer to the election.
Rising UNC junior and Undergraduate Senator Pallavi Maladkar said that even though Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order protecting access to abortion in North Carolina, it was still just as important to her to attend the rally.
"Gov. Cooper is governor now, but the second that we get a Republican governor, or we get a few more Republican seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives at the state level, abortion rights are gone," she said. "So it's really important that we make sure that we know our voices are being heard and we tell our representatives that we care about this issue, because sure it's protected for now, but it can just as easily go away."
Maladkar added that when she first heard that Roe v. Wade was overturned, she had to take several hours off of work to fully process the decision, most of which she said were spent crying. Following the decision, she said she experienced little to no consideration about how she was feeling from the men she is close to in her life.
"I am tired of living in a world in which men simultaneously don't care about us and want to control us," she said. "I am surrounded by men whose only reaction to the Supreme Court's decision was essentially just, 'that sucks.'"
UNC Women's and Gender Studies Department Chair Ariana Vigil read a statement from a group of Women's and Gender Studies departments from across the state in the Pit.
She said that the department is teaching a new course on reproductive justice this fall.
"Our students will explore the root consequences of the court’s decision, including the history of the anti-abortion movement and the reproductive justice advocacy, led by Black and queer and trans people of color, which affirms that all people have the right to choose to have children, to not have children and to parent the children they have in healthy environments," she said.
Compass Center Executive Director Christian Adams said that the overturning of Roe v. Wade will have an even greater negative impact on victims of domestic violence during her speech.
She said that victims who become pregnant may feel that they do not have the opportunity to escape.
"Often we see that when there's violence in the home, if mother or father or whoever it may be has children, they're not gonna leave," Adams said. "You realize you will do a lot of things that you often wouldn't do for the sake of those kids."
Adams added that fighting for reproductive rights does not necessarily have to take the form of being on the frontlines of a rally.
She said that actions such as phone banking and writing to representatives are important work as well.
"When we talk about redirecting the rage, find the things that you can do," Adams said. "It doesn't have to be something great. People often say to me, 'Oh my god, it's so overwhelming.' Yes. And guess what? Find the one thing you could do."
Vann said that her administration will continue to engage with leaders in the state and collaborate with the Women's and Gender Studies Department to figure out what else can be done to continue to support students on campus.
An executive order passed by UNC's Executive Branch on July 6, states that the branch is required to use sellers and contractors that publicly support reproductive rights.
"We are so passionate about this work, and we understand that it's our responsibility to fight for our rights," Vann said. "There are people who fought for this right in 1967, and now the mantle has fallen to us. That is not something that we are happy about, but it is not a challenge that we are going to shy away from. This fight is only just beginning."
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