Just like last year, Vox has compiled a guide to “news you can use”, or in other words, an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. Today, we cover the on-campus issues that made headlines. Check in later this week for the year’s biggest crime stories.
Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice
In March, the United Feminists and H*yas for Choice created Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice. The campaign pushed the University to provide contraceptives, sex education, rape kits, the HPV vaccine, and informational resources on reproductive health. Plan A Hoyas also campaigned for less restrictive freedom of speech and expression policies.
Members of Plan A Hoyas met with administrators on Tuesday to discuss Georgetown’s sexual health policies. Although they promised to meet with Plan A again, the Georgetown administrators who were present at the meeting do not seem to have committed to altering any University policies in response to pressure from the group.
Plan A members have not responded to several requests for comments about the meeting, but Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson described the meeting in an e-mail to Vox:
“We had a productive and frank conversation with the students, and we plan to meet with them again in the near future. I reiterated to them that as a Catholic and Jesuit university, we hold fast to our core values, and we remain committed to policies and approaches that reflect our identity.”
The University had agreed to this meeting following two high-profile GAAP weekend protests on Friday and Saturday where members of Plan A and other groups protested for student access to contraceptives on campus, changes to the University’s student insurance plan, and expanded space for dialogue about positions that the University considers antithetical to its Catholic identity.
The group netted especially strong coverage from their protest on Saturday, where three Plan A members chained themselves to the statue of Georgetown Founder John Carroll, which any number of outlets from the local NBC network to Feministing picked up.
The agenda of this Sunday’s meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association was dominated by the vote on the budget passed out of the Financial Appropriations Committee for fiscal year 2011 on Thursday.
But Senators still found time to remark on the most recent controversy at Georgetown, the Plan A protest held over GAAP weekend, and dream about convening the GUSA Senate in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.
GUSA Budget FY ’11: The GUSA Senate voted to approve the fiscal year 2011 GUSA budget, which allocated $0 to both the Student Activities Commission and the Performing Arts Advisory Council. The budget will increase the level of funding received by Club Sports, Georgetown Program Board, the Center for Social Justice, and the GUSA Executive, while funding for the Media Board will remain unchanged.
Members of the Financial and Appropriations Committee who presented the budget said they had brought the budget without funding for either SAC or PAAC before the Senate because they didn’t want to delay funding for the other advisory boards. They are working to reach agreements with SAC and PAAC on compromises so the two groups could meet GUSA’s six suggested reforms and receive money from the student activities fee.
Members of Plan A Hoyas will meet with University officials on Tuesday to discuss the school’s sexual health policies following their high-profile GAAP weekend protests on Friday and Saturday, WTOP is reporting. Marion Cory (COL ’10), a Plan A Hoyas leader and a board member of United Feminists confirmed that they will talk with University officials, but did not specify who they would meet.
Vox has not yet obtained the letter that the University sent to Plan A protesters on Saturday afternoon, but the letter was enough to convince members of Plan A and the students protesting in solidarity to end the rally in Healy Circle, where three protesters had chained themselves to the statue of John Carroll.
The Voice‘s Will Sommer has, however, obtained a letter that Vice President for Student Affair Todd Olson sent the protesters on Friday which explains why the University cannot recognize a group like H*yas for Choice, which advocates for, among other things, the sale of contraceptives on campus.
March 26, 2010
Dear Student Leaders of Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice President DeGioia has asked me to follow up with you in response to your letter of March 4, 2010. In this letter, as in your previous one, you raise once again questions about the intersections between the University’s Speech and Expression Policy and the Access to Benefits Policy.
It is important to distinguish between the two policies – the Speech and Expression Policy guides the expression of ideas and viewpoints for members of our student community, while the Access to Benefits Policy guides our relationship with student organizations. The Catholic and Jesuit identity of the University informs its policies and practices, including the organization and governance of student organizations.
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Updated 8:10 p.m.: After receiving a letter from Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson, the protesters unchained themselves from the statue. Plan A would not release the letter, but said they will be meeting with the administration “as soon as possible.”
Update 5:15 p.m.: The protesters are demanding that President John DeGioia respond to them by 8 p.m. tonight.
On Saturday afternoon, as hundreds of prospective students visiting Georgetown for GAAP weekend strolled by, three students from Plan A Hoyas taped their mouths shout and chained themselves to the statue of John Carroll in Healy Circle in their most high-profile protest yet of the University’s refusal to acquiesce to their demands.
About fifteen members of Plan A, the coalition movement started by H*yas for Choice and United Feminists to demand more dialogue about and access to sexual health care, participated in the demonstration at Healy Circle, stating the organization’s demands and singing chants. Plan A caught the attention of dozens of prospective students and their parents, despite the best efforts of GAAP tour leaders to avoid lingering near the protest.
“You need to know what’s up. Your sexual health is in danger!” a Plan A member shouted at a nearby tour group.
Local TV news channels filmed their activities, where members of Plan A were joined by representatives from two other on-campus organization, MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana de Aztlán) and Georgetown’s chapter of the NAACP.
“Reproductive justice would benefit the female community of color because it’s usually women of color who can’t afford contraceptives and don’t have access to information. That’s the history of our community. Plan A really brings that to the forefront,” said Frances Davila (SFS’ 10), co-chair of MEChA.
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.
Speakers from organizations like the National Abortion Federation and Choice USA aren’t the kind of guests you’d expect to find at a Georgetown University-sponsored event—especially not if they’re the event’s main voices, and especially not if there isn’t anyone sitting on the panel to counter their input with pro-life opinions.
But that’s exactly who made up the panel that Plan A Hoyas held last night to kick off Choice Week, making it one of the very few events, possibly even the first that the University has ever funded where speakers only presented pro-choice arguments about the abortion debate.
Before a room of about fifty students, Mark Egerman, from NAF, Robin Wood, from Choice USA, and Jared Watkins (COL ’11), a founder of GU Men Creating Change, spoke about the importance of male involvement in the pro-choice movement, why male involvement is especially important to the pro-choice movement now, and how Georgetown students can lobby the school to fund more similar events.
“Unfortunately, men’s voices are often heard louder than women’s even when the same message is being heard,” Egerman said. Later, he spoke to the difficulty of getting men to advocate for abortion rights, as it’s not a right that men exercise. “The power to be able to force someone to give birth against their will is fundamentally terrifying. But that’s not something men necessarily think about because they’re not physically threatened by that.”
Watkins, the student, does a lot of work on and off campus concerning violence against women and said that Georgetown policies that “silence women’s voices of control women’s choices” are a very basic form of controlling women’s bodies. “And that control is very basic violence against women,” he said.
We’ve seen what Georgetown University President looks like as a Jack-o-lantern—but what if he were a leprechaun?
Seems he’d be sporting a green fedora and prancing around Red Square, telling passersby and angry members of Plan A Hoyas, “You’ll never get my pot of condoms!”
At least that’s how members of Plan A Hoyas, the controversial group pressuring the University to provide contraceptives, comprehensive sex education, and expanded free speech about sexuality on campus, chose to interpret his Irish side. Frustrated that DeGioia has not responded to the letter they delivered to his office on March 4 following a rally in Red Square, which Plan A Hoya leader Marion Cory (COL ’10) said asked him to respond by March 15 to their demands, members of Plan A Hoyas turned today to ‘guerrilla theater.’
Their brief performance around 1 p.m. featured students mimicking ineffective contraceptive methods, like pulling out, as a student dressed as ‘Jack O’Gioia’ hugged a pot of condoms and played keep-away, condemning heterosexual and gay sex. Plan A Hoya members circulated a petition for their demands to students who were watching.
The scene concluded when a Plan A member snatched away O’Gioia’s cache and held it up triumphantly. “Condoms!” he exclaimed, before showering Red Square in prophylactics.