Reproductive Rights Coalition Pushes University Policy Shift

Despite a failed initial attempt to gain the university’s support, H*yas for Choice and United Feminists continue to pool efforts to sustain the goals of their newly established group, Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice.

The group was formed this semester in an effort to improve access to material resources, access to information and free speech.

“All of these expectations are reasonable, necessary and urgent if we are to end the pattern of marginalization of the health and safety of the student body,” H*yas for Choice Vice President Erica Slates (SFS ’10) said.

The group wrote a letter to University President John J. DeGioia on Feb. 5 outlining their concerns, and on Feb. 24, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson responded in a letter.

“Through its Speech and Expression policy, the university provides students the opportunity to participate in a dialogue on a wide range of issues,” Olson wrote. “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, however, Georgetown cannot support organizations whose stated purpose conflicts with Catholic moral teaching.”

Olson said in his letter that all D.C. residents have access to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner service at the Washington Hospital Center. The Washington Hospital Center, located in North D.C. is the only site in the District that is authorized to provide this service.

He added that students can receive human papillomavirus vaccines from the university hospital’s outpatient pharmacy, which is located across the street from the Student Health Center.

“Georgetown’s policies and practices rest on the strong underpinning of Catholic social and moral teaching and its affirmation of the dignity of all persons from the beginning of life to its natural end,” Olson wrote. “I recognize that these are complex questions and that there are divergent points of view on the issues that you raise; that is why our policies and practices encourage debate and conversation.”

“Nonetheless,” Olson concluded, “as a Catholic and Jesuit university our policies must reflect our identity and our values.”

embers of Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice believe these policies are unacceptable.

“Georgetown needs to answer to its students, and Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice is hopeful that President DeGioia and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson will listen to the voices of its concerned students and take the necessary steps to end its hypocrisy,” Marion Cory (COL ’10) of United Feminists said.

The group has drafted a petition to ask the administration to continue to take their concerns into consideration. The petition currently has more than 100 signatures online.

“We have already received overwhelmingly positive and supportive feedback from many students and believe that the majority of students ultimately agree that the university’s current services are inadequate and will at the very least understand why it is important to bring up these issues at this time,” Slates said. “Ultimately, these are reasonable expectations that will bring Georgetown in line with the majority of schools of our caliber in the nation.”

According to Denise Yu, a sophomore at Columbia University who attended Boston College, a Jesuit university, last year, condoms are not available for sale on campus at BC. Additionally, students cannot use their flex dollars at an off-campus convenience store to purchase condoms either.

Students at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic university, are also unable to obtain condoms on campus, according to Nick Goode, a junior at the institution.

Yet some other schools without religious affiliation are more willing to address the issues Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice finds so important. According to Elizabeth May, a sophomore at Wake Forest University, the student health center at Wake Forest provides students with free condoms.

According to the group’s Web site, “Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice is a coalition of students dedicated to changing the way that Georgetown University approaches issues of reproductive justice and choice.”

The group cites flaws in the university’s policy on reproductive issues such as the administration’s refusal to sell contraception on campus, the unavailability of rape kits in the campus hospital, the lack of sex education and the administration’s unwillingness to offer financial support to pro-choice student groups, such as H*yas for Choice.

“United Feminists and [H*yas for Choice] are operating as a unified coalition in solidarity with each other,” said Cory. “Although we are coming from two distinct groups, we are one coalition of students committed to engaging in this cause together.”

According to Slates, Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice is currently working to plan events for this semester.”

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