Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice took to Red Square Wednesday afternoon to protest the university’s stance on reproductive issues, this time drawing onlookers in a skit inspired by St. Patrick’s Day.
In a performance by members of the recently formed coalition of H*yas for Choice and United Feminists, a student portrayed University President John J. DeGioia as a leprechaun hoarding “a pot of gold” full of condoms. Other Plan A members encouraged spectators to sign a petition to the administration regarding reproductive rights issues on campus.
“[The skit’s] goal was to highlight the ways that Georgetown’s policies around sexual health are negatively impacting the lives of students on campus,” Kristina Mitchell (COL ’10), a member of United Feminists who recently became involved in Plan A, said in an e-mail.
Mitchell said she was pleased with the number of students who came to the event.
“We had a great turnout, and were able to elicit a lot of interest from students and other passers-by,” Mitchell concluded. “Plan A is definitely making progress, which has become evident through the overwhelming support of our efforts on the part of the student body, faculty and staff.”
The group brought a letter of protest to the Office of the President on March 4, three days after the Student Activities Commission approved funding for an upcoming Plan A event on abortion rights in a landmark vote.
Other members of the Georgetown community, however, including members of GU Right to Life, strongly opposed the message of Wednesday’s demonstration.
“I did not see Plan A’s demonstration,” said Ellie Hook (COL ’12), president of GU Right to Life, in an e-mail. “However, I have heard a great deal about it and have talked to many students who were grossly offended by Plan A’s distasteful and childish display.”
Hook also addressed the approach the group employed in conveying its message.
“I feel that mocking President DeGioia is a strategically stupid move to make as well. Do they now feel that he will respond to their letter/proposal in a positive way?”
Hook said her greatest concern is not Wednesday’s demonstration, but rather the claims and messages being propagated by Plan A’s marketing efforts on campus. Hook cited statements written on Plan A fliers that the Georgetown University Hospital does not provide rape kits.
“In placing fliers around campus that state that Georgetown [University] Hospital has no rape kits, could that not make women feel that if they are raped, they have no one to turn to, nowhere to go?” Hook said.
Rape kits are administered at the Washington Hospital Center, the only location in D.C. permitted to do so.
Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice has lobbied the administration this semester to change its policies regarding these issues.
“We got a vague and essentially un-responsive letter from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson after we delivered our first letter on Feb. 5, and he has not yet scheduled a meeting with us,” Mitchell said. “His actions further deny students a forum in which to voice concerns about these issues.”
Olson responded to the letter from Plan A in a letter on Feb. 24, per DeGioia’s request.
“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 in the letter. “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, as a Catholic and Jesuit university our policies must reflect our identity and our values.”
According to Mitchell, this is consistent with the university’s longstanding attitude toward reproductive issues.
“President DeGioia’s failure to address reproductive justice in a genuine way is quite clearly a continuation of Georgetown’s general protocol of ignoring and neglecting sexual health issues, but it is still disappointing to see such a blatant lack of engagements on President DeGioia’s part when our attempts to open a dialogue have been so direct,” she said.
Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice, according to its blog, is “a coalition of students dedicated to changing the way that Georgetown University approaches issues of reproductive justice and choice.” The group is not officially recognized by the administration, and does not receive access to benefits from the university, according to Ruiyong Chen (SFS ’13), a SAC commissioner. “