Hundreds of students from across the country traveled to Washington D.C. last week for the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Never Go Back National Student Leadership Conference. Students learned leadership and mobilization strategies for advancing pro-choice grassroots campaigns, trained to be stronger advocates of reproductive freedom, visited legislators on Capitol Hill to show support for abortion rights, and heard from such renowned feminist leaders like Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation; Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women; Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood; Kate Michelman, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Dr. Jane Smith, CEO of Business and Professional Women/USA; Senator Barbara Boxer (CA); Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO); Donna Brazile, political organizer and former campaign manager for Al Gore; and Pamela Bridgewater, legal expert and American University Law Professor.
Leaders from the Leadership Alliances at SUNY NEW PALTZ and CERRITOS COLLEGE made special presentations during the general sessions to share their strategies for advancing feminist activism on campuses and mobilizing campus support for increased Emergency Contraception access. Nearly 400 feminist activists from over 114 campuses were in attendance, including large delegations from AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, BOSTON UNIVERSITY, BOWDOIN COLLEGE, EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY, FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY, GEORGE WASHINGTON, KEENE STATE, OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY, SAINT MARY’S COLLEGE OF INDIANA, SPELMAN COLLEGE, SUNY NEW PALTZ, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA — TAMPA, VASSAR COLLEGE, WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, and XAVIER COLLEGE!
Students were excited to take the conference and campaigns back to their campus, according to Ellie Doig, FMLA activist, “I came down from BOWDOIN COLLEGE in Maine and it was well worth the trip! There is nothing comparable I could have experienced up here. The speakers, the amount of fellow feminist students I got to meet. All of it was new for me and has made a huge impact on me.” Throughout the day, FMLA activists were involved in press events and interviews, including Jen Heitel, a GWU FMLA leader who successfully debated an anti-choice activist on MSNBC. Heitel, along with Katie Del Guercio from the BROWN UNIVERSITY FMLA and Melissa Jones from the AUBURN UNIVERSITY FMLA also participated in a national pro-choice press conference sponsored by a coalition of feminist organizations in Washington, D.C. Karen Pinaud, Cerritos Community College FMLA leader, was interviewed in Spanish by CNN en Espanol about the importance of reproductive rights for young women.
The INDIANA UNIVERSITY AT BLOOMINGTON FMLA sent representatives to the Never Go Back Conference in DC and to the local Planned Parenthood rally. In addition, they organized a special “Did You Know?” hanger project, flyering with the Pro-Choice Public Education Project’s glossy posters and posting hangers around campus with facts about abortion access attached to them to educate students of the consequences if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The group hopes to organize a rally in their community for the next anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on their campus, the CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance organized a pro-choice complete with an art show, music, and food. The BRANDEIS Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance hosted a “Rock for Choice” benefit concert with 6 local area bands and performance artists to raise funds and awareness for the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Never Go Back Campaign. The UNIVERSITY OF MILWAUKEE FMLA affiliate co-sponsored with their campus VOX and hosted a benefit concert for Roe v. Wade.