As students and faculty members raised their fists in solidarity, their angry voices echoed down the halls of Utah Valley University. Protestors chanted “At this university, we must protect diversity! Make Matthew Holland see, we must protect diversity!”
The chant was only the beginning of the Rally For Equality sponsored by the Coalition Against Discrimination at UVU. The coalition, made up of representatives from six different clubs on campus as well as other students, held the rally on Monday, March 26 to protest what they viewed as bigoted and sexist mentalities that exist on campus.
The purpose of the rally was twofold, to protest sexism within UVUSA and to change university policies to be more inclusive. It began by addressing the recent criticisms of UVUSA Vice President Joe Jursic, who sent out sexist tweets from his personal twitter @JoRawwwrrr. Some of the tweets in question include “My turnover rate for followers is like my turnover for hoes #pimpinainteasy” and “God help you if you are an ugly girl.”
Jacob Hyden, the secretary of UVU’s Revolutionary Students Union, gave a speech explaining the issue. “Our goal is to eliminate sexism within UVUSA,” Hyden said.
Representatives from each club within the coalition read statements that denounced Jursic’s actions and called for solidarity from students in standing against sexism, especially from their student representatives. “Women are human beings, not objects,” said Jessica Burnham, representative of the Peace and Justice Club.
Students were not the only participants in the rally. Dr. Michael Minch, an associate professor in the humanities and philosophy departments spoke out against having Jursic represent students when he expresses and perpetuates sexist comments.
After a brief break, the rally began again with its second purpose, protesting the absence of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in UVU policy. Currently, UVU is the only state public institution of higher education in Utah not to include sexual orientation as a protected class in regards to employment. The University of Utah, Dixie State College and Snow College also list gender identity as protected classes.
Matthew Jonassaint, the representative for the philosophy club who does not identify as being gay or straight, began his speech by screaming at the audience. He then stated he was not doing that for attention but rather because he was angry. “I’m angry about this and I’m tired of being angry,” Jonassaint said. “And I’ve been angry for years.”
Jonassaint finished his speech with the phrase, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us” which students began chanting.
The last speaker of the rally was David Knowlton, a professor of anthropology on campus. Knowlton commended the students in their efforts and voiced his solidarity with their cause. “You have put President Holland on notice that change must happen,” Knowlton said. “The times are a-changing…Your generation will see that day. It is dawning.”
Greg Haddock, a member of the coalition, wrapped up the meeting by encouraging students to tweet or email Jursic calling for his resignation and emailing current student body president Chris Loumeau asking for Jursic’s resignation. Haddock also encouraged students to email Holland, urging him to include sexual orientation and gender identity in Policy 301.
The rally concluded with Haddock leading the attendees in a chant that incorporated parts of the UVU fight song. Students shouted in unison, “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like. Show me what democracy sounds like. Go fight UVU.”