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Monday, May 20, 2024

Middlebury students join over 20 colleges across the country for the Reproductive Freedom Protest

Participants in the Reproductive Freedom Protest on May 5 started at the Chapel and proceeded up the hill towards Chellis House.
Participants in the Reproductive Freedom Protest on May 5 started at the Chapel and proceeded up the hill towards Chellis House.

More than 100 Middlebury students rallied on the lawn below Middlebury Chapel on May 5 at 5 p.m. for a Reproductive Freedom Protest that took place in conjunction with over 20 other colleges across the country. The goal was to “halt the overturning of Roe v. Wade and defeat anti-choice legislators” according to Reproductive Freedom Protest (RF Protest) on Instagram. 

Meg Farley ’24 (he/they), one of over 75 college students across the nation organizing walkouts on their respective campuses, initially reached out to RF Protest to get in touch with Middlebury students organizing a protest, since the college was already listed as involved in the movement. Upon finding out that no one from Middlebury had confirmed participation in the RF Protest, he committed to making the protest happen just 20 hours before the scheduled nationwide time. 

Participants gathered on the front lawn of Chellis House for five minutes of silence in honor of five decades of Roe v. Wade.

Sending out an open invite over Instagram for anyone interested in organizing, speaking or photographing, they recruited the support of Ev Berger-Wolf ’23 and Bess Gramling ’23, who helped with the action and produced a Reproductive Justice Resource sheet for attendees, as well as Daleelah Saleh ’23 and Nadia Hare ’25 for official photography. Farley also worked closely with Dr. Karin Hanta, director of the Feminist Resource Center at Chellis House, on logistics surrounding art-making and consciousness-raising and received guidance on coalition building from Professor Sujata Moorti’s Feminist Theory class.

Farley opened the protest with a Land Acknowledgement, recognition of the Chapel’s roots in the eugenics movement and the intersectionality of the current fight for reproductive rights. 

“The fight for reproductive freedom cannot be separated from fights against eugenics, and against white supremacy, and colonialism,” Farley said. “As many of you know, this is not just about Roe v. Wade, this is not just about abortion access. This is coming at the same time that voting rights are being stripped across the country. This is coming at the same time that trans rights are being stripped across the country.”

Shouting chants, the group proceeded up the hill to Chellis House, gathering on the front lawn for five minutes of silence in honor of five decades of Roe v. Wade, impromptu speaking and art building. In honor of the “Green Wave” Mexican abortion movement, national protestors were instructed to wear green. 

Farley spoke again to the many other connected ways in which “politics seem to be dictating the people more than people are dictating the politics,” and the absence of adequate infrastructure for abortion access and care even in protected states like Vermont. Several students shared their personal thoughts and feelings, including Saleh, who emphasized the importance of considering the intersection of racism and classism with the history of the movement for reproductive justice. 

“I just hope that when you’re all thinking about this, you’re also thinking about this through an intersectional lens, and thinking about not what you can do so much as what other people are already doing, and not necessarily asserting yourself, but seeing mutual aid funds you can access, and places where people of color and other marginalized identities are already doing the work and how you can support them in the way that they need and not how you feel that they might need,” Saleh said at the protest.

Editor’s Note: Daleelah Saleh ’23 is the Senior Opinions Editor for The Campus.

Maya Heikkinen

Maya Heikkinen '24 (she/her) is a Copy Editor. 

She has previously served as an Editor at Large, News editor, copy editor and staff writer. Maya is majoring in Conservation Biology with a minor in Spanish, but is also passionate about writing. She is from Orcas Island, WA, and loves being immersed in forests, running/hiking, gardening, and hanging with plants and cats. In addition to The Campus, she has been involved in SNEG and the currently extinct WildMidd.