To drum up support for Planned Parenthood after the Senate passed a bill defunding the organization, Brandeis Students for Reproductive Justice (BSRJ) launched a social media campaign on Facebook in early October.
BSRJ’s campaign was an extension of Planned Parenthood’s own Pink Out Day on Sept. 29. As part of the national event, people across the nation were encouraged to wear pink, post selfies with the hashtag “#StandWithPP,” donate to the organization and share their Planned Parenthood stories to raise awareness about the reproductive healthcare services Planned Parenthood provides for both men and women.
The social media campaign encouraged students to post pictures of themselves on the BSRJ’s Facebook page with the hashtag #StandWithPP. A link to the “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” website was included with each picture posted so that students could learn more about the cause.
“We decided to bring the #StandWithPP campaign to Brandeis as a way to raise awareness about Congress’ attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. As students, it is easy for us to focus in on our work and lives on campus and forget about the world around us,” said Ari Keigan ’18, BSRJ current events coordinator, who hopes the campaign will raise student awareness about the national debate over Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care.
Many people are not aware of the health services that Planned Parenthood provides. According to their website, 80 percent of clients receive services to prevent unwanted pregnancy, such as contraception dispensation. The organization also provides Pap tests and breast exams, which are critical in detecting cancer. Abortion services, making up three percent of Planned Parenthood services, as well as STD tests and treatments, including those for HIV, are provided. Planned Parenthood also leads educational programs for 1.5 million young adults each year. Campaigns like BSRJ’s social media event try to spread awareness about Planned Parenthood’s services and build support for the organization so that more people will take a stand against the potential government defunding of the organization.
Social Media Co-Coordinators Tessa Collins ’19 and Madie Lefkowitz ’19 “asked the student body to send in pictures of themselves visibly supporting Planned Parenthood,” Collins explained. The hashtag has become popular in the wake of government attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, and “all of BSRJ thought it was important to disseminate that message to Brandeis,” she said.
A new organization, BSRJ formed when the student leaders in Brandeis University Students for NARAL decided they wanted to broaden their scope of focus to include education, service and health care issues, rather than just policy.
“We wanted to emphasize education opportunities and direct service in our activism, as well as interaction with policy,” said Lexi Ouellette ’18, co-president of BSRJ. We are energized by the ability to partner with individuals who can bring about direct change in the attitudes on this campus and in our community surrounding reproductive justice.” The members of BSRJ will continue to work with members of Brandeis NARAL to accomplish their goals.
Future endeavors of BSRJ include both on- and off-campus events. “Ideas in development include direct service in the greater Boston area, teach-in opportunities about health care access on campus and a community zine shining a light on people’s relationships with their bodies and their reproductive health,” said Co-President Sophie Warren ’18.
Many students want to be directly involved in both the community and on a larger scale if the opportunity arises. “Rallying and lobbying is another big thing we’ll be doing. As the year progresses, we will be watching the news for any new legislation regarding reproductive health and justice, and we want to go to the State House, send letters to lawmakers and make our voices heard,” Collins said.
The Facebook #StandWithPP campaign is just the beginning of BSRJ’s efforts to make progress and make their voices heard, both on campus and on a larger scale. They hope to continue to branch out and work with others to accomplish their goals and spread their message of reproductive justice for all.
In raising awareness about Planned Parenthood, Ouellette said BSRJ hopes to “draw attention to PP allies on campus,” and introduce their club as an outlet for those who want to fundraise or volunteer with an organization they are part of.
“We hope … [the campaign] lets people know that we exist, that we want to work with Brandeis students and we’re looking to begin that meaningful work today,” said Ouellette.
Brandeis Students for Reproductive Justice meets Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. in Olin-Sang 112.