Passionate chants broke the contentious morning air. Since news of the leak from the Supreme Court surfaced, a sense of doom fell on the nation, and UC Santa Cruz was no exception.
40 hours after the Politico leak, students organized a protest set to begin on May 4 at nine in the morning. They shared cardboard and markers to create signs, encouraged one another to stand on the rocks in the Quarry to share their stories, and cheered in support of each speaker.
One unnamed second-year student, who came in support of the protest and participated in the march, explained why she showed up to the Quarry.
“I wanted to be in solidarity to show that I care because these issues mainly impact women of color and women of lower class.”
A rock in front of the Bay Tree Bookstore became a soapbox, allowing participants to have a platform to voice their concerns.
Among these speakers was first-year Alisa Johnson, who opened up about how Roe v. Wade has bettered her life.
In an interview, Johnson explained that her birth control failed while having consensual sex, which led to an unplanned pregnancy. Left pregnant and too young to take care of a child, she decided to abort the pregnancy.
“I was 15, I couldn’t drive, an older friend had to drive me to the abortion clinic. The person who got me pregnant was also 15. We were too young to be parents. It would’ve been my mom’s kid, and I wasn’t ready for that,” Johnson said in a follow-up interview. “It saved my life, it got me to where I am here today. I wouldn’t be here if I had to be a mom, so I am grateful for abortions everyday.”
After nearly 40 minutes of speeches, demonstrators embarked on a march around campus. Continuing their persistent chants, the crowd of hundreds made their way toward McHenry Library. Afterward, protesters proceeded up the road through Science Hill and onto McLaughlin Drive, just behind the Quarry. Traffic headed the opposite direction honked in support of the protest.
Some protesters left once the swarm returned to the Quarry, but others stayed to transform their speeches into encouragement for the remaining crowd. From those speeches, many were inspired to do a second round of protesting.
Also in attendance was UC Santa Cruz Dean of Students Garrett Naiman, providing support for demonstrators.
“I wanted to make sure I was out here to support the students that are gathering to voice their frustration, anger, and pain about the leaked documents,” said Naiman at the event. “I checked in with a few of the students and others that were setting up and let them know, ‘Hey, if you need anything, or if something got weird out here, and you feel like you need support, I’m here, the Women’s Center is here.’”
During the second round of marching, protesters stationed themselves in the middle of the road, just in front of the Jack Baskin Engineering bus stop. Their sit-down blocked midday traffic and prevented buses from dropping off students.
Naiman negotiated with students, requesting that they vacate the street in the interest of safety, with frustrated cars honking and both loop buses being delayed. He then granted students permission to go anywhere besides the road so that traffic could flow through and not endanger the protesters.
Demonstrators then made their way to Kerr Hall, chanting, “don’t be complacent, we want a statement,” in regards to Chancellor Larive’s lack of statement at that time.
Upon Chancellor Larive’s arrival, she was immediately bombarded with questions from the group — What is the timeline for COLA bargains? Where does student tuition money go? How will the university rebuild the trust after the conduct issue with strikes?
However, the question that the group was most keen to get answered was whether the UCSC administration would make a statement about the leaked documents.
Chancellor Larive responded to students by explaining what had been discussed in meetings concerning the situation.
“The [UC] system is getting together a statement for the system, so we have been asked not to make a statement until after the system makes a statement. While it is really important to all of us, and hurtful, you can imagine the pressure on the medical system on campuses.” The Chancellor added, “I will probably not be making a personal [UCSC specific] statement from me alone.”
After the interaction, Chancellor Larive had to leave but thanked the students for the conversation. As the crowd dispersed from Kerr Hall, many protesters were unsure about when the statement would be released. A statement was released six days later on May 10, signed by Chancellor Larive and Vice-Chancellor Kletzer.
The demonstration brought a diverse community of students to fight for women’s rights, creating a sense of kinship.
Second-year Jocelyn Leinback explained her motivation to attend the protest, and the importance behind her involvement.
“I feel really passionately about the Roe v. Wade initiative and I think that it’s important to get the word out since [the ruling] is not officially out,” Leinbach said. “I’m trying to accomplish getting the word out that people need to understand what is going on with women’s rights and how this could potentially affect other people.”