By Jenny Rossberg, Fall 2014 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at the College of William and Mary. Connect with Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month VOX kept our pro-choice activism going steady with a number of education and volunteer events. We tabled twice in Sadler, our food court/student center area in order to raise awareness about STI prevention on campus and to advertise our club. As usual, we handed out free condoms, stickers, buttons, and information about CPC’s.
In addition to our normal sexual health message, though, we also gave out information sheets about pro-choice and anti-choice candidates for the upcoming midterm elections. We really want students to understand how important it is to vote for candidates that will protect women’s reproductive rights.
VOX also had two clinic escort events this October, in which members drove to Richmond to stand in support of patients visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic. Members said that the first clinic defense was very low-key: the protestors tried to talk to them and change their minds a couple of times, but otherwise they left our clinic escorts alone. The second time, however, someone driving by spit at the escorts from their car. A pro-choice pizza shop owner apparently turned the day around by offering the escorts a free pizza.
As a club, clinic defense is very near and dear to our hearts. Not only do we like to help the patients, but we also get to learn about what we’re doing as a movement. It’s one of the only times students from a relatively liberal campus interact with strongly anti-choice people. A lot of the protestors do not understand that the clinic provides many services other than abortion, nor is the abortion information they distribute accurate.
All of the groups we’ve seen are faith-based, and all of them offer religious salvation and help raising a baby (namely giving out free strollers) to the women going into the clinic. They can be polite and passive, but other times they harass clinic patients by trying to give them pamphlets or show grotesque images of late-term aborted fetuses to both patients and cars driving by.
VOX did a few other things this month. At one of our meetings we watched the documentary After Tiller as a club and afterward had a discussion led by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s Ta’Kindra Westbrook. Since late-term abortions are such a specific and difficult topic, the club really liked learning more about them and the providers. We also attended an event that the Pro-Life club on campus hosted called “Stump the Pro-Lifers.” It was overall very unproductive, but it did give us a sense of what pro-life rhetoric is like and what we’re up against as we continue to fight for abortion rights and better repro-health/justice education.
Finally, VOX helped support Healthy Relationships Month this October by attending the events that H.O.P.E. (Health Outreach Peer Educators) put on to educate students about healthy relationships and consent. They had a forum about healthy relationships, tabled to raise awareness about alcohol and issues with consent, and finally hosted the open house of William and Mary’s new safe space for survivors of sexual assault, The Haven.
Overall October was a very productive month for VOX. Next month we’re looking forward to more tabling, movie screenings, and clinic defenses, as well as planning a campus-wide abortion talk and the imminent destruction of the patriarchy.