by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief
Music resonated throughout the small house. People crowded in, inching as close to the bands—and to one another—as possible. Sweat, sounds and some shoves filled the small living room on yet another weekend night.
But this was not just another punk show at Preston House.
The Oct. 11 show was also a benefit for FemCare, an abortion clinic in Asheville which is one of the few clinics in the state that is still standing.
On July 29, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law SB 353 which limits women’s access to abortion services. The law resulted in the closing of three North Carolina clinics in just three months. The clinics failed to meet certain regulations, which had become much more strict as a result of this law. FemCare, however, was the only clinic in the state that was able to meet the new regulations.
But just days after this law was passed, FemCare was inspected and abruptly told to close its doors after being cited with 23 health and safety violations. Dr. Lorraine Cummings, who owns FemCare, issued a statement after the clinic’s closure: “Since the State’s last visit in August 2006 there have been no changes in our operating protocols, but increasing regulations require us to make changes. Standards that were acceptable when we were last inspected have changed and, as soon as we were notified of them two weeks ago, we began the process of meeting each one of them. We have had no patient infections using our former protocols.”
After making the proper adjustments to adhere to the regulations, the Asheville clinic was able to reopen in late August. According to junior Ben Algeroy, who organized the benefit show at Preston House, FemCare were able to reopen with the support of the community.
“A lot of people were doing benefits for them, so we wanted to do a show and have a good cause for it,” Algeroy said. “But we were wondering, how much money can we make that will actually make a difference? We’re talking thousands of dollars here to meet these new regulations.”
That night, Preston House hosted a total of four bands, from Asheville, from campus, and as far as Greenville, South Carolina.
“The band Rubrics had to drive an hour and a half, but they didn’t want any gas money, they were just happy to play the benefit,” Algeroy said.
According to Algeroy, an estimated 150 people showed up.
“It was the best show we’ve had,” he said. “It was more people than we’d ever seen at the house before.”
Throughout the evening, a donation jar was passed around and by the end of the night, almost $400 had been raised.
“It was more than I expected,” Algeroy said. “Even though it’s not a huge amount, it’s still enough to make a difference, and they were thankful and said it was a big help [when we gave them the money]. Even the small things help.”
To spread information about FemCare, the bands talked about the clinic and its importance during their sets, and announcements were made in between sets, while bands were setting up.
The benefit show was entirely student-organized and student-run. Preston House residents hope to host more benefit shows in the future, to raise money for other, important causes.
“A lot of people might have just thought it was another Wilson party but I think the fact that we had this cause, it was a different atmosphere than Wilson parties,” Algeroy said. “It was having another punk show, but having an awesome cause to do it for.”