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Brandeis Students for Reproductive Justice enter their second semester

By Jacob Edelman

Section: Features

January 22, 2016

Lexi Ouellette is a sophomore from Granby, MA. Anne Kat Alexander is also a sophomore, hailing from Austin, TX. Ouellette is a Politics major with minors in Health: Science, Society and Policy, Legal Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, while Alexander is an English and Classical Studies double major with minors in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, French and Creative Writing. Aside this impressive list of studies, Ouellette and Alexander are both on the e-board of Brandeis Students for Reproductive Justice, otherwise known as BSRJ. Ouellette is the president and events manager of BSRJ, while Alexander is the legislative action coordinator.

According to BSRJ’s mission statement, the overall organizational goal of the club is to “Elevate and mobilize the collective conscious of Brandeis Students towards the realities of reproductive healthcare, the importance of reproductive justice for all and the vital intersection of reproductive care with elements of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture, identity of nation, geographic region and work.”

At each meeting, usually 10 to 15 members attend to support the club and stay active in issues surrounding reproductive justice. This past fall semester, the club held two events that “embraced the intersections of art and reproductive justice,” according to Ouellette. Reproductive justice-inspired artwork was created by members of the club, and short stories, poetry and a film were also shared. Additionally, Alexander noted that a cupcake bake sale fundraiser was held to benefit the Prison Birth Project, which is an organization that “supports, encourages and trains currently and formerly incarcerated mothers and trans parents to become community leaders within a reproductive justice framework.”

Ouellette was asked whether she perceived BSRJ as more of an educational organization or an activist organization, but she stated that she doesn’t believe that there needs to be a difference. “Part of our activism is to educate ourselves, our members and the general Brandeis and surrounding communities,” she said, continuing that, “Without continual education, we would not have the basis to engage students and community members. Our own activism would not be informed and evolving.”

When speaking about the challenges involved with BSRJ, Ouellette and Alexander noted that conveying urgency of action can be difficult. “People have so many opportunities to work in so many fields that creating a demand for your organization involves competition between other well-worthy groups, social life and academics. We want to create an environment that can be accessed by Brandeis community members with varying amounts of commitment, time, information and interest,” they said.

Alexander commented that there is a common linkage between the phrases “reproductive justice” and “abortion,” or between “abortion” and “contraception,” but she noted that reproductive justice goes beyond accessible family planning. She elaborated that it includes concerns such as “improving healthcare for trans people or agitating to keep tampons from being taxed as ‘luxury goods.’”

This semester, BSRJ has a number of events coming up that they had decided to delay from the fall semester due to Ford Hall 2015. The club and its leadership felt that Ford Hall 2015 took precedence, so their activities were scheduled for the spring instead. The events that the club looks forward to holding include a menstrual product drive and an event regarding the campus’ health care coverage. Next Friday, Jan. 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the SCC Multipurpose Room, BSRJ will also host a ’Deis Impact event titled “Coffee, Cupcakes & Condoms: Conversations About Reproductive Justice.”

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