International Women’s Day was this past Friday, March 8, and a group of students gathered at the UCR sign near the Bell Tower to hear speeches and then march to Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox’s office to show their support for a free menstrual products resolution.
ASUCR President Semi Cole introduced the event and spoke about solidarity surrounding women’s and gender issues. Cole said, “We stand united — students, staff and faculty in recognition in the strength all around us.” He continued by addressing the purpose of the speakers and the march: “We celebrate the vitality of their ambition, the truth of their humanity, and most of all their greater call for justice and dignity.”
He was followed by Tina Wong, a representative of Period at UCR, who spoke about menstrual rights saying, “We started this initiative called ‘pad initiative,’ and we’re working with different entities on campus to install free menstrual product dispensers in all the women’s restrooms.” She also spoke about wanting more access to free menstrual products and mentioned the dispensers already in places like the HUB and SRC.
Cole once again took the stand again to address ASUCR’s commitment to women’s rights and issues of inclusion. “We as your associated students commit ourselves to the critical work of this space. We stand in solidarity and pledge our allegiance to supporting the encouragement of young women and girls in positions of leadership.” He also announced a new project, “developed to combat sexual violence (and develop) safety measures for our community.”
After Cole, Elizabeth Kavianian, co-president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at UCR, a group which focuses on political issues surrounding Planned Parenthood, took the stand and spoke about women’s rights and the work that the group has been doing, including advocating for the free menstrual products machines. She said, “It’s always encouraging to see our fellow students from UCR working hard to initiate change and establish their own individual projects.”
Next at the podium was Denise Davis, the director of UCR’s Women’s Resource Center and the first openly LGBTQ Redlands city council member. Speaking about her work, she said, “I dream of a day when this work is no longer needed. I think we are far from it, but with your help we can keep moving forward to gender equity.”
Davis also spoke of the impact of women’s movements both for women and other marginalized communities. She said, “I appreciate movements like this one which are born out of a desperate inability to accept one more second of not being seen, heard or valued as women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, immigrants, Muslims and anyone who lives within a marginalized identity in this country.”
Following the speeches, the group of students along with Cole and several of the speakers marched from their position near the Bell Tower to Hindracker Hall while playing Queen’s “We are the Champions.” Once inside the group went up the stairs to the Chancellor’s office, on the fourth floor, where they were met by Wilcox. The chancellor said that he “really appreciate(s) the effort and a great, great demonstration.”