Community Members March for Right to Choose

On Mother’s Day — May 8 — Colgate community members gathered outside of the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) to march in support of the right to choose. Wielding sharpies and poster boards, students crafted protest signs featuring clever and powerful messages addressing the recently leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade guaranteeing constitutional protection of abortion rights. Messages ranged from classic slogans like “My body, my choice” and “Abortion is healthcare,” to slightly stronger messages like “Paws off my pussy” and “If I wanted the government in my vagina, I would have fu**ed a senator.”

Coordinated by sophomores Lucie Levasseur and Mary Grygier, the peaceful protest was co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Department, the LGBTQ Studies Department, the ALANA Cultural Center, the Medusa Movement and Progress Period.

To begin the march, Levasseur and Grygier recited a land acknowledgment recognizing that the Colgate campus sits on the traditional lands of the People of the Upright Stone and Oneida Nation of New York. 

“It is urgent that we consider the legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us together today,” said Levasseur. 

Grygier finished off the introduction. “Furthermore, we acknowledge our privilege in this matter and realize the disproportionate ways in which the decision to overturn Roe would affect people depending on class, gender, and race,” said Grygier. “We are by no means experts on this topic. We are learning and growing, and we want to create a space where we are all able to learn from each other.”

Beginning outside the O’Connor Campus Center, the march wound through the academic quad, down the Persson Steps, onto Willow Path, and down Broad Street to the Colgate sign at the corner of Kendrick and Broad streets.

With nothing but sunshine and blue skies above, conditions were ideal for a march, and the cheers of the marchers rang out loud and clear as they processed across the quad and down the Persson steps.

“What do we want?” called out Levasseur. “Legal abortion!” responded the crowd. “When do we want it?” “Now!”

A chorus of “Our bodies, our rights” and “They say no-choice, we say pro-choice” continued all the way down the Willow Path.

As the marchers gathered around the stone Colgate University sign at the intersection, passing cars honked and cheered their support. 

Climbing atop the stone wall that marks the entrance to Colgate University, marchers brandished their posters once more and performed a new cheer of empowerment: “Not the church, not the state, we women decide our fate.” 

Using a bullhorn to amplify her voice, senior Nicole Weiss delivered a final impromptu speech about the significance of the march.

“We are not marching just for ourselves, we are marching for the people who will be most affected by these laws being overturned. We are marching for trans-folks, for people who identify outside the binary, for people of color, and for people who cannot afford abortions. We are fighting for our rights on this campus, but also, for everyone around us who is not on this campus,” said Weiss.

Following this speech, Weiss’s fellow marchers erupted in a chorus of cheers, whoops and whistles.

First-year Diya Mehta was among those cheering Weiss on and remarked at the power of her words. 

“Remembering that we were also marching for those who will be disproportionately impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade truly made me feel grounded. Knowing that we will keep fighting for justice as a collective is what I think unity is all about.”

As students began to disperse, Levasseur and Grygier collected posters to be displayed around campus in the final days before Summer break and reminded marchers of the importance of registering to vote and contacting their senators and representatives. All the while, the honking and cheers of passing cars continued. 

Following the march, Mehta reflected on the sense of solidarity and renewed optimism that she had gained from the event.

“During this stressful time of finals, it was so empowering to come together and support one another,” said Mehta. “Seeing everyone hold up their signs and hearing our voices chant together really gave me a lot of hope.”