Plan A Hoyas, the controversial group that is lobbying Georgetown University to provide contraception and sexual education to students and allow more dialogue about related topics, held a rally for their cause today in Red Square where members of their group told stories of how they had been affected by Georgetown’s restrictive policies.
Afterward, they marched to President John DeGioia’s office to deliver to him a petition with dozens of signatures from students who supported their cause, a tape recorder on which students had recorded their stories of being frustrated by University policies, including the story of a student who had called into the University Hospital after being raped, and a response to the February 24 letter they received from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson in response to their demands, or, “a response to his non-response.”
After being stopped by University employees on their way to the office, they gave the material to his Chief of Staff Erik Smulson in the foyer of the second floor of Healy Hall.
About two dozen students led the rally in Red Square, with some holding signs, like “Let’s make the 1st Amendment a Legacy.” A student in a dress shirt and tie who wore the moniker “Georgetown” on a piece of paper went around the half-circle of protesters putting tape over their mouths as what one rally leader, Julia Shindel (COL ’10), called “pretty clear symbolism.”
Through a bullhorn, a member of Plan A Hoyas told a story of how she’d had trouble getting Plan B after after her partner’s condom had broken during sex over a weekend. She had been unable to get a prescription for Plan B until the Monday afterward, when her gynecologist’s office opened, almost two days after having unprotected sex. (At the time, Plan B still required a prescription.) The CVS she went to had run out of Plan B, and by the time she was able to procure it, it was outside the 72-hour window in which Plan B is most effective.
“Georgetown does not have my back, and I want to change that,” she said.
Another student said the University did not give her instructions for properly storing a dose of the HPV vaccine she’d had to bring from the pharmacy to the Health Center in order for them to administer it to her, which may have ruined the dose. Another told the protesters she’d had to give up birth control because she was on the University student health plan, which does not provide a copay and made the price of birth control too high for her to afford.
“It is within our power to take off this tape that the University has put over our mouths,” Shindel said. She and others then led a dozen or so protesters toward Healy.
In the main foyer of Healy, a University employee stopped the group and said that Smulson would meet them. The group, which had walked over silently, began protesting that they had marched to the President’s office before and made their way up the stairs past the employee.
“We have access to DeGioia’s office,” one man said.
A Department of Public Safety officer stood outside the door as students told Janet Pfister, an executive assistant who was sitting at the desk outside the President’s office, that they wanted to speak to DeGioia or “a right-hand man, so to speak.” Pfister said he was out of town.
“I find it unfortunate that whenever students come to see DeGioia he seems to always be out of town,” a male student said.
“Believe me, he’s not hiding under his desk. I’m sure he’d be happy to speak to you if he were here,” Pfister responded.
Later, Shindel told Vox that the march on the President’s office went exactly how she expected it to.”DeGioia never comes out to speak to his students, which is a problem in and of itself,” she said.
The protesters told Pfister about their movement and some of their stories until Smulson came into the foyer and accepted their material, saying he would give it to DeGioia and have him or someone else respond to their second letter.
Some names were removed to protect the identities of the protesters.