Last year Gonzaga graduates Anna Algate and Elaine Rickards worked to get the Students for Reproductive Rights club approved by GU administration last spring. Due to the clubs planned affiliation with Planned Parenthood the club was denied and told it would not be approved unless it dropped the affiliation.
The reason Gonzaga Students for Reproductive Rights couldn’t make the club with the affiliation was because of the university being a Jesuit/Catholic university and being associated with Planned Parenthood goes against its values.
“We can’t have any affiliation with them,” said Keely Peddycord, who is an event planner for the club. “Their logo can’t be on anything that we have. Also, we don’t want the club getting in trouble or getting disbanded because of that. We just want to be a resource for students right now. Maybe in the future we can talk to Gonzaga about reopening that conversation and having a formal affiliation.”
Now, the Students for Reproductive Rights club is up and running, without the affiliation, and is working to educate the GU community about reproductive health along with many other topics.
Courtney Brown is the president of the club and said she was trying to start a similar club last year and was excited when she found out one already existed.
“Last year I didn’t know this club was being made,” Brown said. “My friend and I were trying to start something similar and were getting the same push back that Anna was getting for Students for Reproductive Rights. Then [COVID-19] and all that craziness happened and then over the summer Anna reached out via Zoom and wanted to be able to pass that official title down so it wouldn’t die out after they graduated. We got all the paperwork filled out over the summer.”
Over the past semester Brown and the other officers in the club have been brainstorming events to put on throughout the academic year. They all acknowledged how important it is to have different voices in the club because they all have different interests and perspectives which in turn creates a more diverse and knowledgeable community.
"It’s positive and great to have different dialogues on campus but sometimes at our Jesuit university, our Catholic university it can feel like there is one narrative that not everyone necessarily believes in or buys into,” Brown said. “To make sure that there is a wide variety of voices and narratives being heard on campus regarding sexual health and well-being is important.”
Education is paramount to the club and it works hard to create posts on social media and bring up topics in meetings that are well researched and applicable to the GU community.
Through its Instagram, @gureproductiverights, and Facebook, which is a private group people can join by request, the club creates posts that help educate its followers.
Maggie Tomcho, the vice president of education, did a whole week of posts about voting on the club’s Instagram. She posted stories showing where to drop off ballots around GU, repost celebrities who posted about voting and explained what Referendum 90 is and why it matters.
“Right now, we are kind of pre-writing some of our Instagram and Facebook posts so we’re using .org and .edu sites,” Tomcho said. “I’m writing a piece about what this administration means for health and sexual health policies. I’ve been reading Biden’s website and use education sources.”
Moving into the semester the club plans to partner with other clubs and outside resources to help educate and support the GU community. For example, last semester they did a screening of the film “Moonlight.” This event helped facilitate conversation around queer relationships and the intersection of race and sexuality.
This semester the club hopes to put on bigger events and work toward completing larger goals — like providing free menstrual products on campus.
“One of our bigger goals is getting free menstrual products into the bathrooms on campus,” Tomcho said. “In that aspect we’re trying to bring awareness to the Period Tax and how essential products are more expensive. We want to talk about how even in America people struggle to get those products on a daily basis when they need them. Bringing awareness to that has been a big thing for me. This is a necessary product and it’s being taxed.”
The club also hopes to hold weekly meetings where members can discuss a plethora of topics around reproductive health, sexual health and well-being. These meetings also act as a safe space for discussion and questions.
“In terms of types of health sexual and reproductive health is one of the most emotional to talk about,” said Clare Casey, the vice president. “I think it makes sense that we’re all college students going through not the same but similar experiences to be resources and be there for emotional support. The time we’re in is difficult, the place we’re in is difficult and a lot of things are difficult right now. It’s nice to have a group of people to talk about this stuff with and rely on.”
The Students for Reproductive Rights Club will be meeting weekly on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Zoom.