October Update from the University of Richmond

By Kristen Gell, Fall 2014 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at the University of Richmond. Connect with Kristen and the Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ) crew on Facebook!

October has been a busy month for Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ) here at UR!  We’ve really gotten into the groove of things and established our presence well on campus.

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Tabling in support of the Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion, where we handed out information and statistics on abortion and it’s restrictions in Virginia, the US, and the world to students.

Just this month, we published our first zine!  It took a while for us to get it all put together, especially considering it’s our inaugural issue, but we are happy with the result!  From here on out, we hope to publish two per semester.  Our first issue was meant to be an introduction to SURJ and what we do for those who are unfamiliar with us.  It highlights the scope of reproductive justice in order to set the scene for what we will be addressing throughout the year.  We hope to establish the zines as something students can come to expect to see every so often around campus.

At the end of September, our school hosted Laverne Cox as part of the speaker series for UR Comes Out!, a part of celebration of LGBTQ history month, which occurs in October.  Her speech was moving and inspiring and certainly a privilege for all of us to attend.  In our own discussions, we made a pledge to make everything we do as an organization as inclusive as we can so as not to exclude trans* people from the scope of reproductive justice.
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UR students were fortunate enough to meet Laverne Cox after her talk. We plan to integrate many of her ideas into our actions. As she said, “Justice is what love looks like in public,” and we hope to spread the love in all that we do.

In an effort to become an active part of the reproductive justice community not only on campus, but also in the greater Richmond area, we participated in our first day of clinic defense!  It was a great opportunity for us to speak with others in the Richmond community about issues they face and how they are actively involved in being a force for change.  It was also valuable for us to see firsthand the intimidation tactics used by anti-choice protesters and how they operate.  We had a great time chatting with the other defenders and were able to keep the protesters at bay, and hope to return to the clinic again soon for another successful weekend!

While much of what we do is centered around organizing for action with respect to reproductive justice topics, sometimes it’s nice just to get out as a group and have fun!  In the spirit of choice and the month of October, we decided to go pumpkin picking!

SURJ pumpkins
We had a great time at the pumpkin patch!
We all had a blast wandering around the patch choosing the perfect pumpkin (or not!), drinking hot cider, and even buying some fresh veggies for dinner.  It provided us with a great opportunity to get to know each other better and will definitely have a positive impact on how we function as an organization.

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