By HOPE RACINE
Signing the honor code is a long-standing tradition for new students at the University of Mary Washington. With this pledge, students agree to academic honesty and integrity in their actions and relations within the community.
However, some students feel that the pledge does not go far enough.
Last Thursday, Oct. 23, several student organizations gathered on Ball Circle for the Make Noise Rally, an event focused on raising awareness for various social justice causes and encouraging students to sign a new, student-drafted honor pledge.
The pledge, called the Student’s Honor System, includes vows to stand up against injustices, not shy away from questioning systems and be steadfast against discriminations.
Representatives from clubs such as DivestUMW, Feminists United on Campus, PRISM, SAVE, the Black Student Association, Diversability, S.E.E.D and UMW United Stance led the rally, surrounded by a circle of students.
“We can no longer stand by and agree to live silently in a world that allows systematic oppression and abuse,” said Sarah Palmer, senior English and history double major and secretary of FUC.
Palmer, FUC president, senior Paige McKinsey and senior DivestUMW member Zacharia Kronemer led the beginning of the rally, reading the pledge and listing various injustices that students previously identified as pressing issues on campus.
In preparation for the event, many of the clubs participated in a video, advocating the rally and reading their new pledge. In addition, throughout the week students were able to walk by a large elephant painting on Ball Circle and create a list of their concerns, such as divestment, right to body autonomy and choice, bisexual awareness, gender equality and more.
“Today several clubs have gathered together to address the big issues,” Palmer said. “We can make a better world together, on our campus and outside it. We will not stay silent when we can speak up.”
During the rally, club representatives took turns addressing the issues that matter the most to their organizations and encouraged students to make noise at the end.
Participants came prepared, toting megaphones, instruments and even pots and pans in order to create as much noise as possible. Students held up signs with slogans such as “Don’t dis my ability” and “abuse thrives in silence, so make some noise.”
The idea behind the rally was not only to make noise but to create awareness and bring the various student activist groups together as a unified front against injustices.
“We’re trying to raise awareness and talk about intersectionality, meaning that all of the issues here coalesce together,” said sophomore computer science major and SAVE treasurer Mary Clark said.
SAVE, formally known as the Student Anti-Violence Educators, is the group behind prominent campus events such as the Red Flag Campaign. Their goal is to promote awareness and education about abuse and consent in all types of relationships.
“Through intersectionality, we [the UMW social justice groups] can show how each issue relates to one another, and if we can show each other what we have in common, we can come together to make a difference,” Clark said.
While some groups, such as PRISM, FUC and DivestUMW are very active and visible on campus, some of the groups present at the rally may be less well known.
One such group is Diversability, an on-campus organization that focuses on raising awareness of disabilities, providing support and educating on how to treat and relate to disabled individuals.
“[The rally] meant more visibility on campus. More support. Getting the word out, not only to the club, but to people around campus,” senior and Diversability president Nicole Dobson said. “People think that the club is only meant for people with disabilities. But it’s for anyone. People can learn and be aware of how they treat people with disabilities. I got to speak about it today. We got to represent.”
Another club at the rally that focused on intersectionality was UMW United Stance.
“It’s the first UMW club to talk about intersectionality. So when we talk about feminism, we talk about how feminism affects women of color. For people with disabilities, we talk about disabilities and how it relates to race and culture,” said junior anthropology major Roy King, the president and founder of UMW United Stance.
United Stance was one of the many groups available before and after the rally to answer questions and spread awareness.
“Since we represent minorities in every area, this was a way for us to get the word out about minorities who face all issues,” King said.