Plan A Hoyas rally in Healy Circle, Red Square for GAAP weekend

Update 2:41 p.m.: Vox has been looking into some of the claims Plan A made at today’s rally. Their claim that Georgetown has one of the highest rates of sexual assaults among college campuses appears to be false. In a November 2008 column, Kate Mays quoted Georgetown’s Health Education Services Sexual Assault and Health Issues Coordinator Jen Schweer as saying that the number of students at Georgetown who have experienced sexual assaults, an estimated one in four, is consistent with national averages. My notes from a conversation I had with Schweer for a column I wrote this fall say the same.

3:57: Their claim that Georgetown’s health plan for faculty members covers birth control while the student plan does not cover it is correct. Birth control for faculty can be covered under some plans, according to documents (pdf) on the University website, including the preferred drugs list (pdf) at Benefits.Georgetown.edu. (Thanks to commenter Interesting for the docs!)

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A handful of students from Plan A Hoyas gathered in Healy Circle today with bullhorns and neon signs to bring their message prospective students wandering campus for GAAP weekend. With chants like “hey, hey, ho, ho, censorship has got to go,” and “Hey Georgetown, whaddya say, do what’s right, enact Plan A,” members shouted their demands and told groups of passing high school students and their parents what they felt Georgetown lacked in reproductive justice. The protesters moved to Red Square after being asked by Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord and Associate Director for Student Programs Bill McCoy to abide by Georgetown’s speech and expression policy.

29 Comments on “Plan A Hoyas rally in Healy Circle, Red Square for GAAP weekend

  1. I’m glad these protesters do this during GAAP weekend. Hopefully it will deter similar annoying jackasses from coming to Georgetown.

    And for the record, I 100% agree with Plan A’s position. But I think the disrespect and petulance of their methods are absurd. Prospective students don’t want to hear from you, and those that do should probably go to GW.

  2. Why do you think that prospective students wouldn’t want to know about Georgetown’s outdated policies towards sexual health?

  3. right, because any prospective who might be interested in both the positives and the negatives of the gtown experience, not just the whirlwind GAAP weekend, are unworthy of a georgetown education? nice try.

  4. When the Plan A letter was published, I was very excited for a legitimate movement towards reproductive justice. These hopes were quickly diminished when the movement was completely reduced to a series of obnoxious protests and blatant publicity stunts that make me ashamed to support their initial movement.
    I loved my GAAP weekend and it was one of the major deciding factors in me deciding to come here and I’ve never regretted it. GAAP is about showing incoming freshman how great you think your school is and what makes it so great. If the thing you love most about your school is how you can protest when Georgetown doesn’t agree with your policies then I feel very bad for you because you are missing so much and you may want to think about switching schools. The people who I feel the worst for are the freshman who are going to be scared away by this irritating protest. They will miss so much as a result of a stupid publicity stunt.

  5. These protests are really becoming inappropriate – I was recently at a small lecture at Georgetown that featured a student response. The student happens to be a part of the Plan A protests. She pushed her Plan A agenda onto this lecture that had NOTHING to do with it all. She passed fliers around the room several times and really made the lecture uncomfortable – an unenjoyable – for everyone.

    There’s an appropriate time and space for these protests. Do what you want during GAAP weekend, but keep it inside Red Square.

  6. I have no problem with informing prospective students about negatives. Do it in a mature and dignified way. If there were 15 students politely handing out informational pamphlets as groups passed through Red Square, I would have no issue with that. Shouting down tour groups and disrupting people’s visits to campus with a bullhorn and pithy-but-inaccurate signs (e.g., “GEORGETOWN SILENCES ME”) are juvenile, childish tactics, and they make our student body look ridiculous.

  7. All of this begs the question: Who is reproducing at Georgetown? Certainly in the pursuit of “reproductive justice” there must be reproduction tucked in somewhere. Georgetoen students probably shouldn’t be reproducing. This looks more about non-reproductive justice since their ultimate goal seems to be to reduce the amount of reproduction (and reproductive possibilities) at Georgetown via condoms and abortions.
    It really is a shame that they are rolling issues of sexual assault into the “message” becauses that signal gets very lost in all unintelligible noise. That is a serious issue, but not necessarily connected to the rest of the message.

    From top to bottom, this has been an hysterical thing to follow on the blog. I hope it burns out, though, before the Japan festival and cherry blossoms are in full swing so more blog resources are dedicated to pictures of those and interviews of famous and entertaining Japanese people!

  8. “‘Georgetown Silenced Me!’ says loud obnoxious protester in public space.”

    I too will be launching a campaign to bring condoms to this campus, but condoms that fit over your ears. Georgetown students shouldn’t go unprotected from the aural disease Plan-A is spreading.

  9. Personally, I enjoy the “G’town Sex Ed: You’re on your own” sign. Um, you’re in college. If you need Georgetown to educate you about sex, there’s a bigger problem. Georgetown is not your mother or father; you are an adult.

    Molly, you can find the employee health insurance plan info here: https://gushare.georgetown.edu/UniversityBenefits/web/OE%202010/GU%202010%20Benefits%20Guide%2010-5-09%20FINAL%20WEB_Smaller.pdf?uniq=-ucfnx9

    It is linked from benefits.georgetown.edu

    IIRC, two of the offered plans cover birth control and the third does not.

  10. If you agree with Plan A’s platform, but disagree with their tactics, please let me know what you think should be done that might actually result in a change in policy or culture. dont just trash people from the sidelines.

  11. Lots of people’s parents never talked to them about sex. Mine certainly did not. I was fortunate enough to go to a public school system where sex ed started in the fifth grade and was quite comprehensive and had a realistic approach to sex. Many Georgetown students did not have this. Considering that Georgetown forces freshmen to complete a three hour course on alcohol, one may think that information on sex might at least be available, but I’m quite frankly unsure where I would even go on campus if I had questions about sex.

  12. Re: above

    “one may think that information on sex might at least be available, but I’m quite frankly unsure where I would even go on campus if I had questions about sex.”

    I suppose you weren’t cool (read: lame) like me and spent a lot of time in the VCW alumni lounge, but there’s a million pamphlets on all manner of health topics posted right outside the lounge, including various sexual issues. They are put there by Health Education Services (202 VCW), which can answer any questions regarding sex that you may have. CAPS and the Student Health Center are also available to assist as necessary.

    For the record, I think the alcohol thing is pointless and clearly a CYA issue. However, while people may still (erroneously) hold universities responsible in some cases for the unhealthy drinking behaviors of their students, no one is silly enough to suggest that a university is responsible for their student’s lack of sexual knowledge. The info is there if you need it (see above), but the vast majority of adults do not. Sex ed belongs in 5th/6th grade, not in college.

  13. OH NO! PROTEST! Let’s talk about how awful and inappropriate voicing opinions in a free speech area against university policies is. Visiting students definitely should NOT know about policies that will affect their lives, especially those that Georgetown does not publicize to accepted to students! We should only say POSITIVE things about Georgetown because getting students to come here through misinformation should be a really high priority! Let’s construct the biggest Potemkin village ever for GAAP weekend! I can get behind that idea. Oh, oh, oh! Let’s also talk in really, really vague terms about something some random, unnamed Plan A person might have done that no one can confirm or deny and that may or may not have been appropriate, regardless of how related it is to these particular protest — yes, excellent idea! But, you know, Fiore’s really hit the mark: let’s talk about stupid semantics like whether it should be “reproductive justice” or “non-reproductive justice” – simply brilliant! I, too, hope that we read more about “famous and entertaining Japanese people” rather than about policies that affect our sexual health here.

    The folks opposing these Plan A protests really represent the cream of the crop at Georgetown. They are so thoughtful and intelligent. Definitely not ineffectual, reactionary morons by any stretch!

  14. radical, racist, sexist republicans = teabaggers
    protesters who have a legitimate point but consistently use obnoxious tactics and therefore alienate people who might otherwise support their issue = dickbaggers

  15. Yeah, all those people who will “support” their issue tacitly but won’t bother speaking up about it are super-important to court when trying to make change. I try to go for the people I know won’t say anything and won’t make a fuss about my issue when I’m trying to get stuff done. Excellent strategic plan.

  16. @oh no

    Thank you. My favorite part of the whole paragraph was sarcastically calling us “the cream of the crop” while you perform the rookie mistake of making an Ad Hominem argument by invalidly disregarding our views simply because we are “ineffectual, reactionary morons.” As far as the accusations go, I am not reactionary and I think I was in fact more effectual than this protest today. It was not I out there alienating the supporters of Plan A.
    Now I feel that the movement will lose steam faster than it gained when it started and if they’re going to continue to threaten the Georgetown administration with “We’re going to scare away kids if you don’t pay more attention to us” then I hope it does die the sooner the better. That way when the bitter taste of these protests have gone a LEGITIMATE group can start a dialogue with the University. As I’ve said I agree with the policies of Plan A and Plan A had a golden opportunity to affect real change but that chance is now almost gone. Holding publicity stunts and embarrassing the University in front of prospective students is not effective. This is not a dialogue and it is only hurting the cause.
    That being said I don’t see anyone that claimed that we should feed the prospective students “misinformation.” I’ve never heard a tour guide lie and say that you can get condoms on campus and that birth control is offered under the Georgetown healthcare plan. While the prospective students do have a right to know about the situation of reproductive health at Georgetown, a simple pamphlet would have sufficed and you can have left the bullhorn at home.

  17. @ brosef

    Uniting a large portion of the student body and alums pushing for dialogue is much more persuasive to the Georgetown Administration than 10 people outside with bull horns being annoying. For example, a child throwing a temper-tantrum when he doesn’t get his way is much less effective than a child rationally and consistently discussing the issues with the parent.

  18. @ @brosef

    Uniting a large portion of the student body and alums pushing for dialogue is much more persuasive to the Georgetown Administration than 10 people outside with bull horns being annoying. For example, a child throwing a temper-tantrum when he doesn’t get his way is much less effective than a child rationally and consistently discussing the issues with the parent.

  19. I agree with Zacster’s original post- GAAP was one of the big selling points for me. At the same time, I was looking at Duke, which was in the midst of the Lax scandal. It would be a lie to say that the negative sentiments on THAT campus didn’t affect my decision. And if these protestors are truly spewing misinformation… that’s deeply troubling. Really crappy if it has a negative impact on students’ GAAP experience. All the protestors could possibly achieve is potentially damaging Georgetown’s yield, damaging the quality of future students, etc. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  20. Students should be able to protest whenever they want, GAAP weekend or not. The information they present should be truthful, but there’s no reason potential students shouldn’t know that Georgetown doesn’t let condoms be sold on campus, that it doesn’t include birth control in the student health plan, that it doesn’t allow pro-choice groups to be sponsored by the university, and so on. If those truths dissuade talented, qualified students from coming here, then, yes, Georgetown loses out — but that’s because of the administration’s policies, and the administration bears responsibility for that, not the people publicizing that information. If the information the protesters are spreading is false, then they bear responsibility for that. GAAP weekend shouldn’t be some university-wide fantasy circle-jerk about how awesome Georgetown is, especially if the university has serious problems.

  21. “GAAP weekend shouldn’t be some university-wide fantasy circle-jerk about how awesome Georgetown is, especially if the university has serious problems.”

    This is true, but I think people are disagreeing about what constitutes a “serious problem.” I’m not aware of a rash of pregnancies occurring because no one can get access to condoms or birth control. The University is entirely within its bounds to prohibit the sale of birth control on campus – especially since that policy does almost *nothing* to impede access to birth control.

    When we debate “conscience clauses” with regard to pharmacists and Plan B, one of the most relevant factors is whether the woman seeking the Plan B pill has reasonably easy access to it if one pharmacist refuses to sell it. That principle applies here as well. Georgetown students do indeed have easy access to birth control – they can get condoms for free in Red Square or from H*yas for Choice members in the residence halls. Or they can walk 10 minutes to CVS.

    To me, this seems like a reasonable compromise: the University allows the distribution of free birth control on its campus without directly funding its distribution, so it gets to remain faithful to its values (whether you agree with those values or not). And students can STILL get condoms on campus, for free, and in convenient locations. Additionally, there is a drug store less than 10 minutes away that sells other methods of birth control. So the students get access to birth control if they choose to be sexually active.

    I think a large portion of the student body would agree that this is a fairly sensible compromise, and what bothers people is that Plan A and its supporters are attacking their opponents as backwards, reactionary, closed-minded, censor-happy, and against sexual health, among other ridiculous things. This is an issue that could be worked out, as others have suggested, with constructive dialogue. But there’s no spectrum of outrage for the Plan A protesters (who, as far as I can tell, are the “usual suspects” when it comes to protesting outrages both great and silly at this school): everything is a Massive Crisis demanding loud and obnoxious outcry of the unsubtle and uncompromising variety.

    So it’s not hard to see how they could rub some people – even those inclined to be allies – the wrong way. There is something shockingly (but characteristically) self-righteous and myopic about the protesters’ (or at least @brosef’s) attitude that those who agree with but aren’t joining them are beneath courting because they lack real conviction. Perhaps those people are just reluctant to be identified with protesters whose behavior they find immature, whose statements are misleading, and whose politics are predictable, closed-minded, and irritatingly smug.

  22. “This is true, but I think people are disagreeing about what constitutes a ‘serious problem.'”

    No, that’s not what people are disagreeing with here. People are arguing that it’s irresponsible to protest Georgetown policies on GAAP weekend because it gives people a bad impression of the university. My argument is that it’s not irresponsible because, insofar as the protests are based on truth, then it’s a problem with the university and it’s the administration’s responsibility (even if they can justify it). If the protests aren’t based on truth, then that’s the fault of the protesters and they should be blamed for that. So far, it looks to be a mix of the two and, with the major exception of sexual assault data, it looks like most complaints are based in fact. If students don’t come here because they are made aware of the policies Georgetown implements because of its attempt to adhere to Catholic doctrine, then I don’t see what the problem is. If it’s well-within Georgetown’s right to establish those policies, as you say, it shouldn’t be afraid to advertise them to prospective students. Are you advocating that Georgetown withhold information about its beliefs and policies to prospective students so that they make their decision on bad information? Maybe there are qualified students out there who are pro-choice and think that Georgetown, like most universities with some respect for free speech, allows pro-choice students to express their views in an institutional setting. Should they not be made aware that they won’t be allowed to do that anywhere but red square? Should a low-income student who can’t afford birth control if it’s not covered by student insurance not be made aware of those policies and have the option to choose a competing school whose insurance policy covers it?

    People can debate whether or not the university’s stance on birth control constitutes a “serious issue” elsewhere (I don’t have a huge desire to get into it), but there’s no reason why protesters shouldn’t be able to protest and no reason why they should not tell prospective students about their grievances with university policy. If you think that the university’s policy is justified and the protesters are wrong, then get out there and make your case to the potential students.

  23. @zacster

    “Thank you. My favorite part of the whole paragraph was sarcastically calling us ‘the cream of the crop’ while you perform the rookie mistake of making an Ad Hominem argument by invalidly disregarding our views simply because we are ‘ineffectual, reactionary morons.'”

    Oh, wow, you’re an argumentative wizard, Zacster. In case you didn’t notice, I sarcastically rebuked the arguments above (mocking the idea that we should only say positive things to prospective students rather than being honest, criticizing people for being overly vague when they talk about Plan A misfires, introducing dumb semantic arguments to appear sophisticated). The description of “ineffectual, reactionary morons” is based on those refutations and the fact that you’re not doing anything but whining on a blog about attempts to improve student life. Yes, perhaps if I had said “they are ineffectual, reactionary morons and therefore we shouldn’t even evaluate their arguments” then you could get me for the ad-hom fallacy. As it stands, it was a sarcastic and caustic post whose insult came at the end of mocking the dumb arguments that were advanced above.

    “when the bitter taste of these protests have gone a LEGITIMATE group can start a dialogue with the University.”

    When, precisely, has the “bitter taste” that Georgetown has toward protesters ever left? For example, even though the Living Wage protests were effective, a lot of people are still bitter and think that solidarity is a worthless organization. There’s no way that advocating for Plan A is just going to taste like sugar to everyone, and disrupting stuff tends to get things done around here. Slow and quiet campaigns don’t get Georgetown to change, not on stuff like this, anyway. And I’m unsure just why you think this group is “illegitimate” . . . because they are expressing opinions you don’t like in a way that you don’t like? It’s not like they’re physically attacking anyone or vandalizing the university, so, what exactly makes them “illegitimate”? And, anyway, isn’t implying that they are illegitimate and that we therefore shouldn’t listen to their complaints just the same sort of ad-hom fallacy that you tried to call me out on earlier?

    “Holding publicity stunts and embarrassing the University in front of prospective students is not effective.”

    Yes, it is. GSC did tons of publicity stunts and that got the living wage. Part of the protests that led up to the implementation of the LGBTQ resource center involved asking embarrassing questions on tours. Even if you don’t like it, making a fuss and embarrassing the university is one of the few ways that they’ll sit up and take notice of your complaints.

    “I’ve never heard a tour guide lie and say that you can get condoms on campus and that birth control is offered under the Georgetown healthcare plan.”

    Just how many tours have you been on, anyway? And have you ever heard one mention it if they aren’t asked? Plus, how many prospective students are going to say “hey, what about condoms?” while their parents are with them? Most people would just assume that, like most other universities, condoms are easily available at Georgetown and that birth control is covered by the insurance. A pamphlet that prospective students likely wouldn’t read isn’t at all the same as loud, noisy protests that inform them of current students’ grievances.

  24. Since I am the frontman of a multiple Juno Award winning Canadian grocery store rock band, I feel compelled to let people know about my opinion. Now in Canada, the government puts birth control in the water supply and mandates that all day cares have a supply of condoms available, so we don’t really have this problem. That being said, I do believe I have some useful advice for the Plan A Hoyas:

    1. Stop alienating students with your actions which get their attention. Instead, hold a Nickelback concert in Red Square. Who can argue with that? Once you have Degoia bumping and grinding with Spiros to the smooth sounds of hit songs like Photograph, Rock Star, and If Today Was Your Last Day, they’ll do anything you ask.

    2. Distribute maple syrup flavored condoms. Trust me.

    3. Call me up sometime and we can talk about my abs or hair bleaching styles or Olympic curling or just anything you want really. If I’m not at a concert entertaining thousands of fans that don’t throw bottles at me, I’ll answer. Please, just call. We can put Todd Olson on conference call if you want, I usually call him before I go to bed. Just somebody call. Please…

    With the utmost sincerity,

    Chad

  25. So they’re chained to John Carroll now. Over/under on people who care…about three?

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